annotations, personal -> private

Marc Andreessen (
Tue, 9 Feb 93 01:56:12 -0800

Version 0.7 of X Mosaic will have personal annotations: for any
document, you can make an annotation (or several annotations) that
will be inlined into the document you're annotating each time you
access that document. (Actually, a link to the annotation is inlined,
but anyway...)

This is the first step towards a more complicated subject. To wit,
there is a wide spectrum between wholly personal annotations and
openly public annotations. The former can be implemented easily by
storing annotations in one's local directory; the latter (potentially)
by having servers store and serve annotations to documents they
themselves serve (an approach that is used by at least one existing
system, the Worm Community System from the University of Arizona,
which is serving as my initial model for annotation/asynch
collaboration capabilities).

However, suppose you want to share some annotations with one other
person, some with your department (~10 people), some with your
organization (~200 people), and some with the whole world. What then?

Here's one idea: a new type of server, an annotation server, will be
run by each group of people desiring to share annotations among
themselves. This server will archive, maintain, and serve annotations
to any document in the web to the members of the group only. Every
time a member of one or more of these group does a document access,
her client checks with the appropriate annotation servers (as in the
above example, there could be 3 or 4 of 'em).

(A modified version of this scenario is to run a centralized
annotation server per organization, and to allow subgroups to be
established at will within that organization but managed by the same

These issues shade over into other types of asynch collaboration
issues, including web-based revision control, protection at the
document level, and so on.

So what do people think? Ideas I haven't thought of? Problems with
ideas I have thought of?