Yahoo is testing a new note-taking application integrated into search called Yahoo Search Pad. This isn’t publicly available yet, but look for it to become a feature of Yahoo’s search engine in the future. I’ve played around with a beta version. Unlike other note-taking tools, such as Google Notebook, Search Pad doesn’t force you to go somewhere else to take notes. It also tries to figure out when you might be in research mode, and records and groups all of your searches for you.
As you do searches on Yahoo, it recognizes when you are searching or clicking on links related to the same topic. If it thinks you are in research mode, as opposed to looking up a single site or a single fact, it will prompt you with a toolbar ynder the search box asking you if you want to take notes. Or you can always open up Search Pad on your own. When you do, a box opens up over the search results isting all of your related searches.
As you go back and forth, researching a topic on the Web, you can cut and paste or add your own notes. Even if you didn’t go to a site dierctly from Yahoo Search, you can still cut and paste some text and Search Pad will compare it to Yahoo’s Web index and associate the clipped text with a URL. Each collection of links and notes is caleld a “document” and you can share documents via e-mail with other people.
The idea is that you can just go about your normal Web surfing day (searching, clipping, taking notes) and Search Pad will organize it for you. What makes it potentially powerful is that it ties back into Yahoo’s search engine to assist your brain in categorizing and organizing your notes, and even reminding you when you should think about taking notes. Search Pad addresses a very limited use case, however. Yahoo has found that people are in this research/note-taking mode only a very small portion of the time.
The one thing the product is lacking is a way to share your notes publicly. Documents (the collection of notes around a given topic) don’t have their own URL. That is going to limit the appeal and usefulness of Search Pad. On the Web, documents you can’t link to might as well not exist.
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