Sni.ps is a service that has come across my desk a dozen times in the last year, referred on to me by everyone from trusted colleagues, the director of my org, and the developer himself (with whom I should note I have worked before and consider a friend). I had looked at it briefly before, but the last time someone sent me a prompt I thought it time to take a better look and write it up.
The premise is simple enough – the service provides a bookmarklet that, when clicked, creates an overlay of whatever page you were looking at. This overlay allows you to then select content on that page, for which it generates ‘embed code’ to paste on your own site. Doing so will reproduce the content along with an annotated attribution link back to the original source.
There’s a few small other twists to it – the attribution link does use a microformat that describes it as an ‘attribution,’ it looks like RDF data is being created which will associate the cited data with both source and destination, and, if you create an optional account, this account becomes a central storage spot for all of your snipped content.
So the idea seems appealing. And to give credit to the developers, it is quite easy to use, and while there might have been ways to reduce the steps even further, really, it is reasonably slick. The fact that you can use it without an account is very cool. And it’s free.
But like so many things, a large part of the question of whether it will get adopted is whether the effort to use the tool (or any change to existing workflow that the tool asks you to make) is worth the payoff, makes it easier to accomplish something you were already doing, or easy to accomplish something you’re not already doing but might, if made easy enough.
The act of copying the content itself doesn’t seem to be made particularly easier, so sni.ps value proposition seems to lie in providing an easier way to create attributions. Morally this seems to resonate – other than what seems like a few fringe cases, there doesn’t seem to be any real resistance in the open content/open education community that Attribution is a reasonable requirement for reuse. So we seem to be saying we want to attribute original sources, and indeed the pratice of the bloggers (and educators) I respect would also seem to support this. Indeed, Alan even coined a neologism for it:
But the word “Attribution” sounds vague.
So I tossed out a new word — Linktribution– attribution via a web link, or offering a “linktribute”.
So does sni.ps make it any easier to do? Well, in my limited experience so far, not particularly. Neither the microformat nor the RDF are of any immediate benefit to me that I can see either (though I am not opposed to creating them if it’s easy enough, which this is). Having a store of ‘attributed’ content – yes, I could see that having some value.Enough to make me change my workflow? Not sure.
I *want* to like sni.ps. But I’m not sure. I’m going to keep trying to use it for a few more weeks, see if it rubs off. The reason I am blogging it, though, is partly so that others can have a look and give me their sense as to its usefulness, and their willingness to adapt their workflow to include something like this. What do you think? As a blogger, would you use this? As someone working on open content or open education, would you evangelize this to your users? – SWL