Re: "Annotation" and "annotation" (was: RE: [data-model] Proposed Abstract for Web Annotation Data Model Spec)

On Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 10:01 PM, Doug Schepers <> wrote
>  If there is intended to be a meaningful distinction between
>> “Annotation” and “annotation” – and I think it is a good idea –
> This truly confuses me. Why would that be a good idea? If our aim is to
> produce an intuitive data model, why would we make distinctions that are
> fuzzy and counterintuitive?

I didn't intend to imply that we should define annotation and Annotation
differently, just that Doug is talking about the lay person's concept of an
annotation from the physical world, as per the definitions, whereas the web
annotation data model is about Web Annotations, which encompass a lot more
than that.

> I quoted several dictionary definitions for "annotation" [1]; none of them
> made the distinction between the content (the annotation body) and the
> description of the relationship (what Rob and you call the "Annotation").
> In fact, they all referred to the annotation body as the annotation; the
> attachment aspect was mostly secondary (though important).

None of these definitions included tagging, replying to other annotations,
annotating with audio or video comments, accessibility,
internationalization, multiple targets or bodies, choices or lists, style
of annotations, haring, duplication, searching etc etc etc.  The
possibilities of Web Annotation go far beyond what is possible in the
physical, paper based world.  We can't reuse definitions intended for the
physical world and expect them to encompass the range of features that are
desired for annotations in the digital.

Doesn't it make more sense to give the digital analog of an annotation as
> much verisimilitude to a traditional annotation as possible, so people
> understand it immediately?

I don't think that it does, no, due to the above.

> If we really need a term for "the part of an annotation that makes an
> assertion about the relationship between the body and the target", why
> don't we coin a new term ("Annotation Assertion"?), rather than overloading
> the term "Annotation" with a conflicting or narrower definition? (This is
> bit like the problem with "punning", I guess...)

It's not conflicting or narrower, it's broader due to its capabilities from
being a Web Annotation, not marks on a physical object.

> Looking at a sample annotation from the spec ...
> ... it certainly looks to me like the body, the body's content, the
> target, and the indicator that the object is an annotation are all bound up
> in a single package, not separate resources. That's what I think of as an
> annotation (or Annotation).

If I have an annotation with the target being and the body
being a video on YouTube that I just uploaded, are you saying that CNN is
not a separate resource from YouTube?  You seem to be completely throwing
out the web architecture to say that these are not separate resources and
just parts bound up in a package called an annotation.

I strongly disagree that the bodes, targets, and annotation are not
separate resources and I think that many others would agree with that
position.  As such the annotation cannot be just a package of things, it
must be at least the association between resources, some of which may be
embedded within the serialization for ease of consumption.


Rob Sanderson
Technology Collaboration Facilitator
Digital Library Systems and Services
Stanford, CA 94305

Received on Friday, 14 November 2014 16:35:22 UTC