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Marginize materializes on Boston.com

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 23, 2010 08:00 AM

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Marginize founder Ziad Sultan called yesterday afternoon to let me know that his nifty online annotation system would be showing up on this very blog, starting today. Marginize will also appear on other stories throughout Boston.com's business section; you can see the little red Marginize tab over there on the far right side of the page.

What's Marginize? It's a communal, Internet-age update on marginalia. When you click the tab, you'll see comments that readers of a particular article or blog post have left — and also Twitter messages referencing that particular story. You can see other people who've visited the page recently, and people who are frequent commenters on the site.

Unlike the comments at the bottom of Boston.com blog posts and articles, though, Marginize requires you to log in with your Twitter, Facebook, or Google Buzz account — so it tilts the tables toward posting as a real, identifiable person (though it doesn't require it.)

I asked Sultan about whether Boston.com's millions of hard-working staffers could nix Marginize comments on an article that were advertisements, or crossed the line into hate speech or personal attacks. He says there is a way to yank objectionable comments, but that anything that is disappeared by a Boston.com staffer will show up on this special page, so that there's transparency about what is being pulled.

I'm bullish on anything that creates more of a conversation online between the two of us, and other readers, so we'll see how this goes. (I should disclose that I had absolutely nothing to do with bringing Marginize to Boston.com.) Marginize also lets you "check in" to Web sites, and earn badges and rewards, which is something that every start-up must do these days to show they are as hip as FourSquare, even if it's totally irrelevant to their business concept.

Marginize participated in the TechStars Boston development program earlier this year, and as a result raised $650,000 from angel investors. Sultan says the company has about nine full-time employees (some off-shore), and it is based in Kendall Square. Before starting Marginize, Sultan was an analyst at Longworth Venture Partners, the Waltham venture capital firm. (He says he is still an entrepreneur-in-residence there.)

Other sites deploying the Marginize "publisher widget" this week include VentureFizz, OnStartups, and Xconomy.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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