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Re: barriers to deployment of web annotation?

From: <dlaliberte@gte.com>
Date: Tue, 8 Dec 1998 16:01:58 -0500 (EST)
Message-ID: <13933.37497.727024.338824@espion>
To: Jakob Hummes <hummes@eurecom.fr>
Cc: "Rolf H. Nelson" <rnelson@w3.org>, www-annotation@w3.org
Jakob Hummes writes:
 > Rolf H. Nelson wrote:
 > > 1.   Lack of user agent business model:  [...]
 > Maybe, but then: If third party annotations exists, why should they
 > hinder them?

I have heard, from someone who was in a position to know, that Netscape
did not think there was enough of a market to justify supporting
annotations.  Furthermore, even if there were third party annotation
services, the big info providers whose pages would be annotated without
their control would not necessarily like this situation, and they are
the ones who ultimate pay a large portion of the bills (well consumers
really do, but they don't have much control).  

One model that makes some sense is for ISPs to support annotations
on behalf of their users.  And they could do so via proxies to solve
at least some of the technical problems.  But do users really want

 > > 2.   Technological difficulties:  Issues of user interface,
 > >      scalability, performance and privacy may be scaring people away
 > >      from deploying Web annotation technology.

I would agree that all of these are significant problems.


 > A scalable third-party annotation service does simply not exist. 
 > Thinking about it, such a system must be runnable without modification
 > of existing Web servers.  Good luck finding an appropriate architecture;
 > people would get a Ph.D. and more for it... ;-)

I think we addressed this in my paper on scalable annotations, at least
for sufficiently small groups.  For public annotations, it seems
necessary to use something like usenet's servers near each user.  See:


I've also written about the security/privacy problems:


 > > 3.   Disinterest:  Some people may not perceive Web annotation
 > >      technology to be particularly useful.
 > Nope.  I don't think that chat is particular useful, but ICQ skyrocked. 

Chatting meets a social need that is somewhat related to annotations.
But the concern is that if a person wants to socialize, why would they
do it via some random web page rather than in a place dedicated to pure
socializing, perhaps in the context of a particular chat room or forum.

Effective annotations of a web page really should be about that page,
but who is really interested in the annotations of random web users?
Certainly the author of the page would be interested, but who else?
Those interested in the general subject area of the page would probably
gravitate to forums about that particular subject area rather than the
particular page.

Granted, there would be a few people interested in annotating a
particular page with closely related material, rather than posting to a
more general forum.  But it also makes sense for the page provider to
support those annotations rather than forcing each user to find some
independent annotation service somewhere on the web.  This is the
argument behind the design of HyperNews and the protocol described
in the scalable annotations paper.

 > It's just the enormous technological challenge what's keep people away
 > of creating such a service. 

There are certainly technological challenges, but I think the social
challenges are much bigger.

Daniel LaLiberte
 dlaliberte@gte.com  (was: liberte@ncsa.uiuc.edu)
Received on Tuesday, 8 December 1998 16:13:07 UTC

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