W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-annotation@w3.org > July to December 1999

Re: about CritLink and annotation systems in general

From: <ping@lfw.org>
Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 22:57:20 -0700 (PDT)
To: "Bjarni R. Einarsson" <bre@netverjar.is>
cc: www-annotation@w3.org, gerald@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.10.9908282247530.843-100000@localhost>
On Fri, 27 Aug 1999, Bjarni R. Einarsson wrote:
> 	- 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.

You are entirely correct.  It is probably better to look at Crit's
mediator architecture as an implementation mechanism: one could
implement something that worked like Crit and used the same protocols
as Crit, but not as a mediator, if one wanted to.

I was faced with these three choices when i started writing the software:

    (a) Local browser plug-in.

    (b) Local mediator.

    (c) Remote mediator.

I considered all three carefully, and chose (c).  I didn't go with
(a), like ThirdVoice did, because it limits the audience and constrains
the software to the foibles of a particular platform, browser, and even
browser version.  (c) trades performance for widespread accessibility.
(b) is like a compromise: you have to have separate software for each
platform, but at least you don't have to have separate software for each
platform *and* browser version.  In the end i chose (c) over (b) because
the benefits of accessibility and instant usability without downloading
any software tipped the scales.

Now you could go ahead and do (b) or (a) if you wanted, to make the
whole experience smoother and faster.  As i said in my other reply, i
think it would be quite a worthwhile project.  But (c) remains as a useful
last resort -- let's say you wander past a public-access terminal, or
you're using a friend's machine and you want to annotate something.
You want to make annotation *part of the experience of the Internet*,
exactly as accessible and pervasive as the web browser itself.  

And so, what it comes down to is that Crit actually made annotations
*possible*.  As far as i know, Crit is still the only Web annotation
system that actually works.  That is to say, Crit is the only service
that lets anybody annotate any page on the Web, today and for the past
two years.

(By the way, this is why when people like ThirdVoice claim that they are 
the first to do annotations (http://www.thirdvoice.com/about/index.htm), 
they are lying.  When reporters write that ThirdVoice took the initiative
in bringing annotations to the Web, they are simply wrong.  They can't
even support annotations on multiple platforms.  I have asked ThirdVoice
to please correct the erroneous statements which appear several times in
different places on their site, but they have not responded.)

-- ?!ng

        I never dreamt that i would get to be
        The creature that i always meant to be
        But i thought, in spite of dreams,
        You'd be sitting somewhere here with me.
Received on Sunday, 29 August 1999 02:29:52 UTC

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