[okfn-discuss] Thinking about Annotation

Francis Irving francis at flourish.org
Mon Jan 15 13:02:27 UTC 2007

On Thu, Jan 11, 2007 at 10:49:43AM +0000, Rufus Pollock wrote:
> 1. Addressing and atomisation: Are annotations specific to particular
> parts of the resource. If so how do we store this address (relatedly:
> how is the resource 'atomised' and how to we address these atoms, or
> range of atoms). For example, do we address by word, by character, by
> paragraph or by section? Do we wish to store ranges rather than a single
> address? Do we wish to allow a given annotation to be associated with
> multiple ranges/atoms?

I know it is stating the obvious, but it is important - ultimately
what to reference is a problem already solved by URLs. It might
be possible to come up with something better, but I doubt it'd
be possible to come up with something as ubiquitous. 

If you include the # part at the end of the URL (which can refer
to ids in the document), you can have something precise enough for
most purposes. (e.g. An annotation in a blog linking to a paragraph in
a government document, which the government document automatically
picks up a as a back link)
> 3. Will the underlying resource change and if so are annotations
> intended to be robust to those changes.

I'm tempted to say that the meaning of the URL should never change,
and the annotation will be appropriately redirected by it. Which
is hiding complications, I know!
> (Given that [commentonpower][] seems
> to fall neatly into this category with most commentable atoms of the
> right size for 'blog' entries I wonder why they didn't just implement it
> as a plugin for wordpress -- perhaps it was such a simple app that it
> easier to 'roll their own').
> [commentonpower]: http://www.commentonpower.org/

We based it on on WordPress, and it didn't even need a plugin. It's
just a new theme, with maybe one or two other tiny hacks, I can't

The code to Comment on Power is here:
And the WordPress theme is here:
(I've guessed those URLs, as I'm on a train with no Internet, so may
not be completely right)

To be honest, I wasn't very happy with Comment on Power. It created
some conversation, but not in my mind *useful* conversation. An
interesting and long running blog about power (think Ideal Government,
say) is a much more useful thing than any number of annotatable
> Of course as discussed above this isn't quite as simple as it looks as
> your user interface can constrain what you can and can't store (using a
> blog approach you can't store ranges and from what I have read getting
> reliable character offsets is problematic). Nevertheless it seems the
> best place to start.

I like the idea of using RSS for this, with the body being the
comment, and the link being a URL to the resource.


More information about the okfn-discuss mailing list