Voices from the past.

Almost two years ago I was busy singing the praises of tools for making the web a workspace. One of the tools I was most impressed with back then, uTOK, was a tool that allowed us to make notes that became attached to web pages, and to make these notes available to groups that we created. It was a wonderful tool, but it's not around anymore. Apparently the reason was quite simple - it couldn't find a business niche. Users like me liked it because it allowed me to converse with others within a frame of reference that remained the web. But developers apparently hoped that it would generate revenues by giving purchasers a frame of reference, perhaps allow "communities" to develop around the marketing of products, and apparently very few people wanted product-centered community. So uTOK was removed from the web, as was the similar Third Voice.

The territory today is pretty dry for the information seeker who prefers free tools. The decline of the dot-coms brought with it the decline of free tools. Recently I learned of a tool that seemed to tout itself as the sort of tool I'd been missing, so of course I had to try it out: TopText.

What I discovered was something very different from what I'd expected, and hardly what I was looking for. With this tool, certain pre-determined keywords would show up with thick gold lines underneath them. Clicking on these links would bring me more information on these items - dictionary definitions, for example. Thus it happened that the word "computer", on any web page I visited, appeared with a gold line underneath it (like this: ), as did "http", and a few other items which I had no need to learn about. Clicking on these "value-added" links would bring me dictionary definitions, or even purchasing information, but this was far from what I had in mind.

Go to: Seek and Ye Shall Buy.