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Re: barriers to deployment of web annotation?

From: Ken Hickman <kenh@netscape.com>
Date: Tue, 08 Dec 1998 14:17:42 -0800
Message-ID: <366DA586.1C5AE325@netscape.com>
To: www-annotation@w3.org
dlaliberte@gte.com wrote:

> 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).

We have found that annotations, such as our new What's Related feature, can be
very tricky. Large content providers are unhappy with the prospect of others
making money off of their content (do you remember some of the suits associated
with "framing?"). The idea of a simple tool to take users away from their site
doesn't excite them either.

There's also the problem of creating annotation content. An open system for
users to submit annotations will quickly create something as messy as the
current domain system -- e.g., an up-for-grabs space that will get exploited by
people trying to steal traffic. You just can't trust people to stick to rules
about keeping annotations relevant. Note that this can create legal exposure
("why are these porn sites related to my site?") for the company providing the
annotation infrastructure, and leads to a system that has low value. The only
way to prevent this is to have humans review each entry, which has huge cost
and scalability issues.

We think that annotations, such as related sites, news stories, reviews,
company profiles, etc. would be very interesting to consumers, however, we are
still wrestling with ways to build and maintain the databases. Opening up the
databases is tougher yet. We think there's a possibility that the new
volunteer-based Netscape Open Directory (formerly NewHoo) may solve these
problems (scalable, open, checks and balances).

--KenH
Received on Tuesday, 8 December 1998 17:17:55 GMT

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