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RE: The Standards Manifesto - some Annotea comments

From: Joshua Allen <joshuaa@microsoft.com>
Date: Fri, 24 May 2002 14:13:33 -0700
Message-ID: <4F4182C71C1FDD4BA0937A7EB7B8B4C105535254@red-msg-08.redmond.corp.microsoft.com>
To: "Marja-Riitta Koivunen" <marja@w3.org>, <www-talk@w3.org>, <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>
Thanks for the reply!

> - Annotea provides an open published simple annotation schema. We have

This is valuable.

> Annotea is a pretty flexible model. It is quite possible to let the
> clients read annotation RDF also from other sources than the RDF

Yes, this is exactly the point I was making.  If annotea "query servers"
were divorced from "publication servers", it would be a much better
demonstration of semantic web value, IMO, and would crack open the
possibilities of network effect.

This is not too difficult with Annotea, I am sure.

> The purpose of annotation servers is to make manageable islands of
> annotation metadata. Having everyone on the web see all possible

> Annotation servers provide one way to help filter the annotations that

I understand.  But I think it is not a very good way to provide
filtering of annotations, and was probably done that way due to ease of
implementation more than as a way to meet the design goal of filtering
annotations.  One could make the same argument about various dialup
networks, "I like the fact that Prodigy and Compuserve are different,
because I know I can get a more serious quality of conversation on

Hypercard created "manageable islands of hypertext".

> There is a community forming and I'm extremely happy that Jim Ley,
> Wilson, Art Barstow and others have provided help with plugins,

I wasn't disparaging their efforts, simply pointing out that the
existing experience is not compelling enough for Mom'n'pop to use
Amaya+Annotea, because they would be intimidated by the technology.  And
a simple out-of-box experience that doesn't take too much effort will
always win over a similar offering that requires lots of politics,
community, and evangelism to sustain it.

That doesn't mean that I am writing annotea off; I am simply saying that
as long as annotea focuses on solving a problem that is so easily solved
by proprietary systems, it's going to be a hard sell.  And I don't
understand why annotea doesn't actually *use* the advantage that a
semantic web foundation gives it, and provide something that the
proprietary systems *can't* -- globality of metadata.

> It would be great if MS would integrate a nice annotation ui for IE
> would be interoperable with Annotea annotations. Jim Ley's work and
> Sharepoint ui seem to be good starting points.

I just think it is a colossal waste of time (or a good way to practice
coding and meet friends, depending on your perspective) to try competing
feature-for-feature with a commercial product, when the only
differentiating feature is that you use a different XML serialization
format.  Maintaining an entire platform and chasing feature-parity costs
a lot more effort than just writing a transform to convert sharepoint
annotations to RDF syntax.  And even if you did that, it is difficult to
imagine what would be gained.

The thing I am trying to point out is that annotea would need to divorce
publication from querying in order to be true to the "semantic web"
model, and if it did so, there would be no need for lobbying and
evangelizing, because the benefits would be so self-evident.  And the
only way for anyone to compete would be to *join* the semantic web.
Does that make sense?
Received on Friday, 24 May 2002 17:40:03 UTC

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