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Re: barriers to deployment of web annotation?

From: Elizabeth Frank <efrank@ncsa.uiuc.edu>
Date: Wed, 09 Dec 1998 15:19:16 -0600
Message-Id: <Version.32.19981209101509.00e00180@sdgmail.ncsa.uiuc.edu>
To: www-annotation@w3.org
At 12/9/98 , you wrote:
>Elizabeth Frank wrote:
>> I think that the annotation needs are being met in other ways.
>I agree that also other annotation systems are needed.  Especially,
>annotations for group members working on the same project are valuable. 
>Systems exist for those annotations.
>> For related topics there are forums, hypernews-like systems, related link
>> pages and web rings. 
>Yes, but you're only aware about them, if
>a) you're member in one of these foren, or
>b) the visisted Web page actually supports them (has a link to them).

You have the same problem with the third party annotation systems.
You need to know where they are located in order to find the annotations.

>> The only annotations that aren't supported are the third party review type
>> which doesn't involve the primary site.  As others in this thread have mentioned,
>> there doesn't seem to be a high enough demand for that type of annotation
>> to get past the scalability and content value issues.
>Not sure about it.  Before something is invented there is rarley a need
>for it, what means: Nobody can tell you, before you have a running
>system.  Then you may look on the acceptance rate.
>> I have trouble coming up with a scenario that requires the third party annotation
>> services you are talking about.
>I would classify Alexa (www.alexa.com) as a first step in that
>direction.  While Alexa only offer links to related Web pages it shares
>some properties: It's independent of the Web sites and shows you also
>links, which are not in the interest of the visited host (e.g.

>competitors).  However, while Alexa includes also a basic rating system,
>links are mainly generated by user statistics.

Yes and no.  I can see a potential here, but the problem is still the value 
of the information being provided.  If you use straight statistics, you have no
idea how useful the information is.  It may just be well published.  Also, Jane
Graduate student looking for collaborative research would not interested in 
Joe Internet's opinion about collaborative software, while she might be interested 
in Jack PhD researcher extrodinaire's expert opinion.  The web rings and link pages
provide a lot of the functionality without the overhead.  I trust Prof. Jill's opinion who
references Jack PhD and so I follow a link to Jack PhD's site to collect his opinions.

While one host probably won't contain links to competitors, you can often find 
reviewers and interest groups that list all the related sites.  Many of the "for fun"
type pages and groups include comments on their link pages that say things like
"good pics", "slow connection", and  "don't bother".

>Third party annotation may be very powerful:
>- Users that visit a Web page share a common interest.  You could look
>on annotations of an URL as a newsgroup with the URL as topic.  As well
>as you need a powerful filtering system for reading highly frequented
>newsgroups (kill file, recommandation system, others), you'll need it
>for annotations of frequently visited and annotated Web pages.

But what valued added is provided beyond someone's favorite URL list?

The web ring provides a set of sites of similar interest for the average hobbyist.
Researchers on common projects already have a connection with each other
and provide forums or email lists like this one to collaborate.

The original question was what has stalled software development in this area?  
I think the answer is there is no pressing need for it.  People have found 
other ways of doing more or less the same thing.  Like it or not, a lot of the
software development seems to be driven by good enough.  If you've got a
way to do something, corporations and funding groups don't seem to be all 
that interested in investing in something niftier.

>- Annotations do not need necessarely be persistent (forever).  They
>could expire as postings in newsgroups.

This would help with the space problem, but I don't see the relevance to getting
people to use an annotation system.

>- Annotations may be synchron.  Then you would be aware about who is
>visiting the Web page at the same time as you.  You could combine it
>with a chat tool.  Something like ICQ, but with URLs as the common

There has been talk about collaborative systems that do things like this.  I don't
see this as an annotation feature, but more a collaboration feature.

>- Competitors will love them.  Now Netscape can advertise their
>advantages over IE on the Microsoft pages :-)

Competitors already do this with "50 reasons we're better than they are" type
pages.  You still haven't brought me to your annotation server.  I'm most likely
to hit a series of related competitors from a search engine or a reviewer's page.

None of these reasons (or the ones below) describe situations that aren't being
dealt with in other ways already on the web through search engines, links, rings,
newsgroups and forums.  

I'm not saying that you couldn't put in a service and potentially get lots of people
to use it,  IF you convinced knowledgeable people to provide the annotations and
IF you can get your annotation sufficiently widely published to so people know to 
hit it.

>- Scientists will love them.  Leave an online review of an article as
>annotation and have a link to your publications.
>- Consumers will love them.  If I'm going to buy the new vacuum cleaner
>from X, I would be delighted to see the promotional offer by Y, which is
>10% off.
>I have a lot of use cases, where third party annotations may create
>value-adds.  However, it can be assumed that most annotations are crap. 
>So you need also a powerful filter.  On the other side: How do you find
>right now interesting Web pages?  You perform also some filter
>operations either manually or automated...

>- Jakob 

Playing devil's advocate,
	Beth Frank

Elizabeth Frank 
NCSA, Univ. of IL 
Received on Wednesday, 9 December 1998 16:19:18 UTC

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