Googles Marissa Mayer Thinks DotSpots Is Beautiful

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-09-09 Print this article Print

Mohit said individual users can download a Firefox plug-in to begin using DotSpots. Publishers can integrate the technology into their sites for their readers to use. So, why would publishers want this?

On most sites, content appears on the left and ads powered by Google or another company appear on the right. DotSpots takes all the user-generated comments and streams them down the right side of the page, effectively sandwiching the ads between the content and the comments. As most readers read left to right, their eyes should stumble upon the ads.

"Your eyes are going to be near the ads all of the time," Mohit said. Publishers win.

DotSpots is free for now, as Mohit said gaining some traction is most important. When DotSpots gets ubiquitous, the company will encourage publishers to publish "commercial dots," attaching ads from their advertisers to DotSpots' free annotation-enabling code snippet. Publishers make money, advertisers make money and DotSpots takes its cut in the middle, Mohit said.

DotSpots is taking invites for the beta but it is still six weeks or so from launching the beta because the team is still working out the user interface.

I wasn't the only one who appreciated DotSpots; it won rave reviews from a panel of judges after Mohit presented it here Sept. 8. One of those judges was Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google.

Mayer, whose many responsibilities include overseeing Google News, which happens to aggregate the type of online news content Mohit is targeting, said the idea is a great way to uniformly display user-generated comments so that they're not always sitting at the bottom of the page. Mayer said:

When you look at ratings, reviews, reviews that are done differently on every single site ... I think people do want a general tool. It's a really ambitious undertaking but it's something that could change the way the Web works and change the way Web sites get built ... It's a really beautiful idea and I really like anything that pushes the Web forward in that way.

So, is DotSpots the type of company that will make it on its own? I don't believe so, but not because it's not strong. It's a great idea, but by adding Web 2.0 flavor to traditional mainstream journalism and globalizing it, it demands the proper scale.

I'm talking about the kind of scale that a Google, Yahoo or Microsoft could provide DotSpots, which could be a fantastic crowdsourcing feature on top of major search engines.

Again, this is another product that feels more like a feature than a new business model, but there's nothing wrong with that. Like Mayer, I'm all for whatever makes the Web more social, vibrant and useful.


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