Workshop on WWW and Collaborative Work
Wayne Gramlich, Sun Microsystems
During the summer of 1994, I decided to take a stab at implementing
an annotation service called `Public Annotations'. The results of
this work can be found at: http://playground.sun.com/~gramlich/1994/annote/index.html
A link to this work can be found on the collaboration page at the W3C web site: http://www.w3.org/hypertext/WWW/Collaboration/Overview.html
This public annotation system is both a functioning collaboration
system and a failure in that nobody uses it. The purpose of my
presentation is to delve into the causes of the failure and present a
follow on system that overcomes most of the problems with the first
The primary problems with `Public Annotations' are:
- The first problem with `Public Annotations' is that is that it required server modifications. This prevented it from being widely deployed at all.
- The second problem was that `Public Annotations' required each annotation to be published on the global web. Since many people are accessing the Web from behind a firewall, they are unable to publish their annotations to the global Web.
- The third problem was that no group annotations were supported. I am of the opinion that most people will eventually stop reading group annotations due to the lack of editorial standards.
The successes of `Public annotations' are:
- In-line annotations worked. Using pattern matching to find the insertion point worked as well.
- Using the Mosaic personal annotation facility to provide easy generation of public annotations worked quite well.
- Since I never finished writing a `Public Annotations' paper and submitted it for publication in a journal, it is not a finished work. However, since I made it available via the Web, numerous other researchers in the field have been able to find it and learn from the effort.