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Re: new annotation software

From: Julie Gibson <julieg@weborganic.com>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 10:24:30 +1000
Message-ID: <3919FDBE.D757887C@weborganic.com>
To: Bryan Thompson <bryan-pop@cog-tech.com>
CC: Bryan Thompson <bryan@cog-tech.com>, "jgarfunk@bbn.com" <jgarfunk@bbn.com>, "www-annotation@w3.org" <www-annotation@w3.org>, "annotate@cog-tech.com" <annotate@cog-tech.com>
Bryan,


> I see a problem with managing scale for annotation systems.  This includes the problem of managing topics, the definitions of those topics, and the specific referents in documents that serve as seeds points for annotations.  It also includes managing the aggregation and abstraction of annotations and leveraging the expressed knowledge for search and decision making support.

This makes a good checklist to compare annotation solutions against:
scale
topics and how to define them
document referents
aggregation and abstraction

Our approach leaves most of these issues in the hands of the owner of the topic, in fact a topic is defined in our terms by the combination of a set of URIs with a group of interested members. The set of URIs is finite but the group can be completely public. Until I read through the Desire pages I had not thought of a method of dynamically assigning the set of URIs but I can see that could be an added on feature of our system.

Scale is going to depend on the database in terms of simple size and how many annotations are humanly useful at a seed and still leave the original document readable. We have found that we have to create regular archives for our demo page because it gets too full to be useful.

Aggregation and abstraction is going to depend on the user, by storing all annotations in an XML database we assume that they will be as useful as the owner can make them With your suggestion of collecting opinions you have pointed out that the annotations could be structured to collect a limited set of feedback which could then be abstracted.

I'd be pleased if you would look through our planned features page and add other suggestions. So far we have found that our system will be extensible to all of these future features but we are slightly(!) limited by resources.

> As you can see, from my other post, I feel that a broader range of solutions is necessary.  I am interested, and maybe we should take the discussion of business models out of the group, in why you chose the specific business model, which is clearly tied to your assertion that

I'm not sure what you mean by our business model. Unless you use this phrase to refer to the fact that we have developed only one aspect of an annotation system. It's not that we were theorists about annotations but that we were using the web for a purpose; developed a way of carrying out that purpose (teaching to a group and using feedback from the group to add to the accessible content of the web pages) then realised that what we were doing was a form of annotations.

This means that we keep in the front of us that original purpose and since it's been complex enough applying that limited set of requirements we have not attempted to generalise. My justification of creating seed points is a post-fact justification, from our initial application when we were collecting responses from students and hand inserting them into the HTML we realised that it was kept more readable when we collected them at points rather than randomly dispersed them throughout the page.

I think that the main role that I can perform in any attempt to create standards is to ensure that our application of annotations on the web can remain as a subset of any theoretical descriptions.

> Your other point,
>
> This makes us at an opposite pole from third voice but there is purpose
> for both approaches. At least all of our annotations can be collected in one database by the owner and made use of.
>
> is also very interesting.  I feel that there should be interchange and encryption support for annotation and collaborative systems.

will XML be able to solve this? maybe a combination of an annotation DTD with other special DTDs depending on the topic.

> I am particularly loath to create content in a database owned by a third party (e.g., ThirdVoice).  The lack of interchange standards means that I can not obtain copies of that information and limits my ability to develop intelligent behaviors that exploit the annotation base to create information or services.  Collaborative systems without open source implementations (or an least standardized and exposed interfaces) make it difficult to integrate that technology to create new products and services.

There has to be a different between the implementation and the actual data. If the annotations are stored in an XML database then they will be accessible (with the owners permission and that's another whole topic!) to anyone with any form of XML editor. In the case of the mechanism itself I'm not sure where the interface would be, can you explain a bit more?

> Encryption support would let people safely leverage a third party system technology for sensitive discussions, e.g., to apply a public annotation portal for discussing business internals.  I feel that, by combining encryption and interchange, we can create new, perhaps transactional, business models for annotation and other collaboration and knowledge management services.

Ahh! I haven't really tackled this aspect. We're planning to set up a service on our own server to do this soon, with access restrictions managed by the owner of a topic, but I hadn't considered going so far as encryption support for the actual content. Up to now we have seen PageSeeder as being a product that we sell to be installed on customers' servers but we have hit many limitations because our users are not technical people and they have to convince their technical departments to install it and it's required java servlet runner, database and jdbc driver.

Wow you've dragged me away from our current project which is to set PageSeeder up on an Excelon system which will mean that the original documents will all be XML so that there will be a seamless storage system for both the annotations and the original document fragments (in fact this project will enable the user to exchange whole paragraphs in the original document with annotations to create a new document.)
But I'm pleased to find some movement at the station.

Cheers
Julie
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Julie Gibson                     E-mail: julieg@weborganic.com
Weborganic Systems Pty. Ltd.     http://www.weborganic.com
Level 10, 91 York St Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
Phone +61 2 9262 4777
Received on Wednesday, 10 May 2000 20:26:06 GMT

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