Whenever people think of WebAnnotation, they seem to think that the technology that doesn’t exist needs to be implemented – the annotation server that shows people these annotations, storing them somewhere, retrieving them on demand; and the annotation client that people need to use.

“Annotea enhances collaboration via shared metadata based Web annotations, bookmarks, and their combinations. By annotations we mean comments, notes, explanations, or other types of external remarks that can be attached to any Web document or a selected part of the document without actually needing to touch the document. When the user gets the document he or she can also load the annotations attached to it from a selected annotation server or several servers and see what his peer group thinks. Similarly shared bookmarks can be attached to Web documents to help organize them under different topics, to easily find them later, to help find related material and to collaboratively filter bookmarked material.” – W3C Annotea

Secondary problems are sometimes discussed: how will we convince people to use these annotation clients? How about rendering pages in iframes and using a web application as a web client. Consider CritLink.

This page talks about the one problem that people don’t often talk about: access to the originals being annotated.

The first problem seems to be that we want to believe that they’ll never disappear. Sure, CoolUrisDontChange. Or do they? Perhaps we want to believe this is true because we still don’t know what to do if it isn’t. BitRot is real.

The InternetArchive is not a good solution. Whoever owns a domain can make archived copies disappear using their RobotsTxt?.

DivisiveTooling? is a problem. If you develop technology to solve the problem, you’ll get CommunityTiedToOneTechnology: whoever doesn’t like your solution, creates a different solution, and now you’ve got two problems.

On WebAnnotations, LionKimbro listed the social issues that arise:

See CliquesAndCommunities.

WebHypothesis takes this into account in how they advertise their product. Social aspects are important.

Are you interested in increasing student engagement, expanding reading comprehension, and building critical-thinking and community in classes? Collaborative annotation makes reading active, visible, and social, enabling students to engage with their texts, teachers, ideas, and each other in deeper, more meaningful ways.

The main problem for public annotations and remixing of all sorts of works is copyright: a copyright owner might object to some other tool displaying their work with annotations. In the US, you have to think through and fight for FairUse exemption. Is it transformative, and not for profit, and doesn’t compete with the original, for example? In Europe, you have to limit the copies such that they serve some exempt purpose, like citations. Citations don’t require the entire work to be copied, ergo you can’t keep such copies.

Sure, within the context of a paid service that has arrangements for certain books it might work. But for everything? Never. We'd have to rely on private "dark net" reading, learning and sharing circles. Large enough for accidental collaboration, small enough to avoid snitches.

Why is this not a problem for the InternetArchive or the WaybackMachine? Maybe it exists in a grey area; protected in the USA by FairUse; the details depend on each jurisdiction’s interpretation of the BerneConvention. It works because of the mercy of the copyright holders.

JuliaReda? wrote about interesting limit to copyright in a blog post on Copilot and copyright:

Under the slogan “The Right to Read is the Right to Mine”, EU-based research associations therefore demanded explicit permission in European copyright law for so-called text & data mining, that is the permanent storage of copyrighted works for the purpose of automated analysis. The campaign was successful, to the chagrin of academic publishers.

So… perhaps if the user cannot read the archived copy, but could annotate the online copy and still view the cited parts from the archive if the online copy is no longer available, that could work? Does that still count as the RightToMine??

Or perhaps it just illustrates how absurd copyright has become and SciHub? to the rescue.



new: 2021-07-08 19:54 UTCTimurIsmagilov: I have no trust in those online annotation systems. Indeed, a wise human will download most of content they have enjoyed. Sadly, I am not wise enough. I download only a fraction of it.

Downloading content is quite easy. youtube-dl is great. Browsers themselves are good at saving web pages too. Exporting to pdf files is great too. What I don’t like about pdf is that it mimics paper, i.e. no responsive design, impossible to read on a phone.

There are services like Pocket or Instapaper that save any given web article. They are proprietary. I wonder if they can be trusted.


Define external redirect: DivisiveTooling RightToMine JuliaReda SciHub RobotsTxt

EditNearLinks: BitRot WaybackMachine BerneConvention WebAnnotations CoolUrisDontChange GitHub CritLink CategoryWebAnnotation FairUse