So a bunch of here at TR are reading the Getting Real PDF book from 37signals,

and I’m furiously highlighting and marking up my printout copy, and it

occurs to me that if I were a manager, I would love distribute one of

these books to my direct reports, and then read all the highlights and

notes that my team made. That way, I could know what everybody else

took away from the subject, and what they thought was important.

Unfortunately, this would require me reading the same book several


This, in turn, made me think of a cool Web app (yeah, I’m a freak).

Imagine a Web-hosted document that you could free-form highlight by

word, sentence, or paragraph. Now imagine that you have two colors of

highlighter: Yellow for good quotes, blue for bad. Now imagine that you

could read the voted-on copy in color code, so that the

most-highlighted sections would be brighter, and the

yellow-to-green-to-blue color code would let you know whether the

audience agrees or disagrees. Suddenly, you’ve got a community-built

Cliffs Notes of any document, with the most important stuff intuitively

screaming for your attention.

It’s like digg, but more granular. I know MS Word does some of this

stuff through Sharepoint, but it’s kludgy and has high overhead. As

long as I was stealing from digg, I’d do this Web-based and simple, and

maybe add in a few bells and whistles later (collapse document down to

display only highlighted sections; list documents by their

most-highlighted quote; the usual user-recognition stuff).

Just thinking out loud. If anybody builds this, I expect a share of the

IPO, unless its Google, in which case I’ll just take a few hundred

company shares and call it even.