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Re: about CritLink and annotation systems in general

From: Bjarni R. Einarsson <bre@netverjar.is>
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1999 09:41:49 -0400 (EDT)
Message-ID: <19990827132254.52924@netverjar.is>
To: www-annotation@w3.org

My name is Bjarni, I've been lurking for a while.  I discovered Crit a
few weeks ago, and I swear, it is one of the coolest things I've seen
online in a long time.  I'm one of those free software people (I write
code for fun & give it away), and Crit got me all fired up about the
possibilities of web annotation and collaberation.  I'd like to take part
in projects related to this, and have some ideas which I've mentioned

On Fri, Aug 27, 1999 at 02:24:49PM +0200, Laurent Denoue wrote:
> I'm waiting a new version of Navigator which should implement DOM Level 2 : 
> with level 2, an external
> application can dynamically modify the page displayed by the browser, like
> inserting annotations or
> coloring a text... Yawas uses this functionnaly of Internet Explorer.

I thought I'd mention an alternate (slightly more hack-ish) way I've
considered to implement this - which would work with all current browsers
and allow collaboration with many different services, while avoiding the
following problems with Crit:

	- Crit is a bottleneck.  It's wasteful of resources, and therefore
	  slow for me to fetch local pages using a remote server.

	- Crit is a single point of failure - if the Crit server goes down 
	  I can't see /any/ annotations.

	- Crit doesn't support distributed databases, "ratings" or other 
	  things that would be necessary if the service became very 

Actually I have lots of ideas. :-) If I had time this is what I'd be
hacking on, but for now all I have time to do is share my thoughts.  My
basic idea is to use a slightly modified Crit as a back end for storing
and creating annotations, and creating a local proxy (similaur to the
Junkbuster or WWWOFFLE) to merge the annotations with the web page

Such a proxy could fetch annotations from multiple channels/servers (e.g.
one or more modified Crit servers, the ThirdVoice server (if I reverse
engineered their protocol)) and display them feed the browser a modified
page (a-la crit).  One of the servers could easily be a local one,
storing only the user's private annotations, another could be on a
company's local intranet... there are all sorts of possibilities.

Web pages could easily suggest a "channel" for critique and discussion
using some sort of meta header.  This would give local webmasters the
option of moderating discussions about their web-sites (something neither
Crit nor ThirdVoice offer) without forcing the user to accept their

In short, the annotations could be as distributed and varied as the WWW
itself.  People would handle the S/N problem and privacy issues as they
always have online - by joining and creating channels that suit their 

The only modification needed for Crit to cooperate with a tool like this,
would be an option to fetch a page's backlinks (e.g. as XPointers?)
without the rest of the text.  I believe people are already using RDF as
a format for similaur meta-data exchanges, so I'd check if that wasn't
appropriate here as well.  If possible the "standard reply" from such a
server would include URLS to a "post new annotation" page and a page
containing information about the service offered (policy, contacts, etc).

No matter whether it's implemented as a proxy or DOM application, the
communication requirements would be the same.  I would personally prefer
an initial implementation that was easily ported between platforms and
could be used with all existing browsers - lynx, kfm, opera etc.  Not
just the newest of the new Explorers and Netscapes.  But such an
implementation does limit what can be done.

Adding a fancy interface for those browsers would be a seperate project
for people who enjoy such things. :-)


Associating meta-data channels with web surfing is leads to various
interesting collaberation ideas... (think slashdot.org + IRC).

Just ask the channel server "what's hot today?" and see what your friends
are reading, or submit a "this is cool" broadcast and watch people argue
about the neat web page you just found. :-)

Add IRC channel features to your channel system (or just make the proxy
use IRC...) so you can kick out abusers or limit access...


Bjarni R. Einarsson                           PGP: 02764305, B7A3AB89
 bre@netverjar.is           -><-           http://www.mmedia.is/~bre/

              These questions and answers are false.
Received on Friday, 27 August 1999 12:09:28 UTC

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