Diigo is a browser add-on that provides capabilities for annotating web documents as you read them. The concept is simple. It turns your mouse into a highlighter pen, and with a click or two, you can insert virtual post-it notes that look just like the real thing when you mouse over them. I first heard about this tool several months ago, but I didn't have an opportunity to review it until just now, in compiling resources for writing an article.
What I liked:
My first requirement for 2.0 technology is that I shouldn't have to download any readme files or read any explanations. I just want to be able to click and go. Diigo didn't give me any problems here.
The other thing that I wasn't sure about is whether my annotations are fully saved on Diigo servers, or if I have to redo them every time I open a document on a new computer. Again, no problems in this respect. All annotations are saved as soon as you post them, so you don't even have to log off and on again if you want to switch computers. "Well that's fine when I'm at work where all computers are pc's running the same version of Windows," you might think, "But what about when I go home? How does it work with the Macintosh operating system and Safari?"
Not too bad, actually. The annotations show up in a different place on Safari, but are close enough, more or less, so you can still figure out what it was that you were annotating.
What I didn't like:
We at FAO no longer have administrator privileges on our computers, so you can't download the Diigo toolbar in order to have quick access to Diigo shortcuts. They do provide a bookmarklet (the Diigolet) that provides most of the essential functions you need to use the program, but not all of them.
When you click on the Diigolet button, a bar that looks just like a toolbar appears at the top of your screen. However, if you navigate away from the page, this virtual toolbar disappears, even when you come back to the page. The first time I saw this, my heart sank, because I thought I had lost all my annotations. Not to worry, though. If you open a page that you have previously annotated, and then click on the Diigolet, your annotations will come back.
The Diigolet doesn't work at all with documents provided through Project Gutenberg. I have a feeling that the problem is related to the format of the documents (Gutenberg document files end with *.txt, even though you can use them like html files). Things look good on the pc with these documents, until you try do do something. Once you click on the highlight button, your window freezes, and you have to ctrl-alt-delete. (Post-it notes seem to work ok). On the Macintosh, the Diigolet doesn't even appear. The highlighting and post-it options do appear when you use the mouse to right click, but don't do it if you don't want to restart your computer.
Another thing that I really hated about this program with respect to Gutenberg documents, is that there doesn't seem to be a way to search your annotations with the Diigolet. If you're reading a 500 page document on a computer screen, you either want to press a button that takes you from one annotation to the next, or to click on a view option that shows annotated text only.
It's possible that there is an option for one of these functions on the Diigo toolbar, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they don't exist at all.
Another thing that turned me off about Diigo is the fact that it's full of suggestions that everybody drop what they were doing, and jump on to the Diigo Bookmarking Tool bandwagon. Their About Page says that in comparison to other social bookmarking tools, "Diigo is substantially more powerful."
No it's not!
One of the things that make social bookmarking tools like del.icio.us work so well is the fact that everybody (well, almost everybody) is putting all their stuff in one place. Creating a tool that attempts to fragment a pre-existing social network is doing a disservice not only to the original tool, but also to members of that network.
Remember the Citizendium? I didn't think so!
So, in short, I think this is a pretty good tool. Cute and useful, if a little buggy. But I wouldn't need to have it on my 2.0 Desert Island. If it disappeared tomorrow, I wouldn't miss it.