[okfn-discuss] Annotation

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Wed Jan 10 17:54:36 UTC 2007

Simon Roe wrote:
> This is an email I sent to Rufus following a conversation about
> annotation systems.
> Both of us have seen a need to get some better way of
> commenting/annotating longer texts on the web.
> I'm only posting it as a base for more conversation on this list.

And thanks for doing so.

> =========================
> In short, I gave you a link to: http://stern.talusdesign.co.uk/node/27
> I'm making the whole thing as a drupal module, so that anyone else
> running drupal 5 will be able to install it and select what pages will
> have annotation on them.  This will take all the work out of making
> something like comment on power for example.  (it's not actually
> working yet, but it's very close)

That looks nice. How will you get your text into drupal and what 
structure must it have. Also how will you store the annotations? Will I, 
for example, be able to take my own copy of the text and combine with 
the annotations independently?

> The whole thing should work without any javascript at all, but it does
> require copy and paste, so I'm not sure how accessible that makes it.
> I can't see any way of annotating text if you can't select something
> though, so copy and paste isn't too much of a big step above that.
> The finished thing will submit the annotation using javascript if it's
> enabled.

But what happens if there is ambiguity, i.e. the piece of text you copy 
occurs several times. Obviously for large texts this is unlikely but if 
one is commenting on a few words this could be problematic.

> Once an annotation is made, people will be able to comment on it,
> starting something like a forum thread about that selection of text.
> One of the main questions is about the display of annotations.  I
> really don't like the GPL annotator that highlights the words - I feel
> that it just gets in the way.

Presentation is a big question and I'm sure different people will have 
different views. The important thing is to have clean data/presentation 
separation so that you can present the same text and annotations in 
different ways. I've got a lot more to say on this particularly in 
relation to the question of 'atomisation' and addressing but I'll put 
this in a separate email.



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