Annotation, the act of creating associations between distinct pieces of information, is a widespread activity online in many guises but currently lacks a structured approach. People comment about online resources using tools built into the hosting web site, external web services, or the functionality of an annotation client. When reading eBooks, people make use the tools provided by reading systems to add and share their thoughts or highlight portions of texts. Comments about photos, videos, and audio tracks, questions or clarifications about data, maps, and social media posts or mentions are all forms of annotation.
However, annotation currently lacks a structured approach. Comments are siloed inside the blog or comment system hosted and controlled by the publisher of the original document, or inside an eBook reader. They aren’t readily available for syndication or aggregation, and it’s difficult to find more comments by an insightful author if they are scattered around different places on the web. Worthwhile commentary is obscured by trolling, spam, or trivial comments. These are challenges both social and technical.
Annotating is the act of creating associations between distinct pieces of information. Annotation is a ubiquitous activity online in many guises: comments on articles, footnotes, sticky notes, “hot spots” on images, timestamped notes on video or audio tracks, highlighted text passages in ebook readers, evocative pictures attached to song lyrics, quotes and links on social media, and even tagged bookmarks, are all forms of annotation. One of the most common and engaging Web activities for the average person is discussion of a document or piece of media.
Many projects and companies are now turning to annotations to solve a variety of issues with communication on the Web, and is of particular interest to the education, research, and digital publishing industries. To address these needs, W3C’s Web Annotations workshop will focus on identifying standardization priorities for chartering a potential Web Annotation Working Group, on such topics as:
Robust anchoring to dynamic third-party documents
Styling selections and annotations
Federation and syndication
Web storage and management of annotations
Client side APIs and methods for the implementation of annotation systems