Without wanting to sound terribly old / old fashioned it seems like you can't visit a web page these days without being asked to leave a comment or share your thoughts or speak your brainz. This bothers me for a number of reasons:

  1. Often I would quite like to leave a comment but I don't want to go through the hassle of signing up for an account with the Guardian and the BBC and Fox News and Rapture Ready and...
  2. When you do leave a comment on most of these sites you lose control. Once the submit button is pressed the comment belongs to the publisher; you can't edit it or remove it which is a problem if you're prone to say stupid things when drunk. In some cases, even if you close your account, the comment remains.
  3. On the content licencing front, every time you leave a comment many sites claim the right to "distribute in any fashion over any medium yet invented or yet to be invented" etc. which annoys me.

Obviously you could write a blog post but most of the time it doesn't feel worth it. And obviously there are "social bookmarking" services like delicious where you can leave a note. But both options feel kinda divorced from the content. As in you can't read the comments in the context of the article. Ages ago I thought it would be sweet if you could swivel round your browser window and scribble on the back and see what other people had scribbled. So something like that. Ideally something as low friction as turning down the page of a book or scribbling notes in the margins...

There's also the problem that neither blogs nor social bookmarking services quite integrates with your "social network" so you can't see what your friends have bookmarked / commented on and you can't see their comments on an article you're reading. You can add contacts on delicious eg but does anybody bother with that when their social graph is already described on Twitter / Facebook?

So the thing I'd like to make but probably won't would:

  1. Allow you to sign in via Twitter (asking for read access only!) or not via Twitter
  2. Use Twitter sign ins to access your social graph
  3. Not integrate with Facebook in any way as a pointless point of principle
  4. Have a bookmarklet (cos everything has to have a bookmarklet) which would drop a javascript layer over the page you're on
  5. By default show you and your (Twitter) friends' comments and give you the option to see everyone's comments
  6. Provide a simple mechanism for sites that can't afford the dev time to add users / comments to just include this instead
  7. Let you edit / remove your comments
  8. Allow you to set privacy (private / show to my friends / show to the web) on a per account / per comment basis
  9. Allow you to set licencing of web public comments in a similar fashion to Beerspotr
  10. Provide data views for public comments with a bit of SIOC and a dab of FOAF
  11. Allow you to export your comments to bog standard blog type things and leave the service and take your comments with you
  12. Not use any of that no-follow nonsense

In elevator pitch terms, somewhere between delicious and lanyard (for socialness) with lots of javascript overlays and an ethical ownership policy. And no adverts.

Anyway, the closest I ever got was almost registering dogearz.org. Then realised it would involve both OAuth and JavaScript (both of which scare the bejesus out of me) and gave up. But still think it would be nice to comment and turn down pages and stay out of the databases of people who want to sell me stuff.