NCSA is adding support for group and public annotations to its HTTP server and Mosaic client. the primary concern addressed in this paper is how to ensure that the feature is scaleable. this solution requires each document server to tell the client where to get public annotations for a document, whereas the user tells the client where to get group annotations for a document. also the problem of finding out what is new is addressed.
daniel laliberte and alan braverman from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the university of illinois, USA, explained how public and group annotations may be implemented into the World Wide Web. annotations would allow readers of a WWW document to add comments to the document. while anyone could add and read public annotations, group annotations would be available only to the members of that group.
the proposed solution follows different approaches for public and group annotations: for public annotations, the document server tells the client if there are any annotations and if so, provides either the annotations itself or just a list of URLs to these annotations. for group annotations, the client has to be configured to "know" where to search for such annotations.
there are also two approaches possible to find out what is new. either the server tells the client which annotations were added since the last visit, or the client can poll the server to check if there are any new annotations.
i believe annotations would add a new dimension to the Web, because it would not only allow to add comments to documents, but it would be possible to build notes or newsgroup like services based on the annotation feature. this would bring us from one way communication to two way communication, so that information providers may get feedback from the consumers without the need of supplying forms or mailto options.
this paper is available on the Web.
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