Web Previews: Snap Off

The best-known web preview product is the one from Snap. Here’s how Lorelle described it when it was enabled on her blog. When you hover over any link on my site, it loads a preview of that site in a small pop-up window. She goes on to explain why this is bad, and how to stop it.

Web preview is the sort of thing that seems cool to put on one’s own site, but annoying when encountered on other people’s. I was therefore relieved when Fred removed Snap from AVC. Fred listened to his readers rather than clinging to Blog Bling, of which he’s the king.

There’s enough buzz around web previews that the race is on to develop “Snap on steroids.” Read/Write Richard is alarmingly enthusiastic about this race, and about iReader, one of the entrants.

iReader… is probably the most sophisticated previews product we’ve seen on the market yet, because it doesn’t just preview a webpage like Snap, or relevant links like Sphere. iReader actually studies the semantics of the content behind each link, and pops up a preview of that content in the form of a short list. The best way to illustrate this is to show you an example.

Yes, let’s see an example. Here’s a quote from the iReader preview of the 107 t-shirts list about which I recently posted. “OMFG eye chart fav addicteed offworld looking good to have thought to check where Norwick selling shirts”. As Richard says, “it is a beta product, so you’d expect some rough edges.”

Meanwhile, back in NYC, Fred has added AnswerTips. It seems more useful than Snap. It’s certainly less obtrusive, in that you won’t get a popup unless you really want one. Mousing over a the word doesn’t do anything. I know that I might regret asking this, but… suppose I like AnswerTips. Can it be made to work when I’m looking at the feed (in Google Reader, Bloglines, or…)?

I certainly prefer AnswerTips to Snap, since it puts me in control, rather than popping stuff up at me. More generally, I prefer AnswerTips to web preview tools because AnswerTips isn’t a web preview tool.

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