Anno., SGML, granularity

Terry Allen (
Wed, 11 Aug 1993 18:25:26 PDT

Sorry, folks, I wasn't thinking when I rejected out of hand
the notion of offsets for storing the position of annotations
outside of a file. But this seems like a rat's nest anyway.
Let me suggest instead that the positioning of annotations be
made at the granularity provided by the document's IDs.

That means you wouldn't be able to insert an annotation at
any point in a paragraph (do we really need to be able to
do that? is anyone using annotations this way for good
reason?), and recalcitrant authors could make the granularity
of possible annotations very coarse by omitting IDs. But
annotations would clump naturally, instead of being spread
through the document like a mist, and that might be useful.
And someone who wanted to encourage annotations could just
provide lots of IDs.

More generally, on annotations: how can this possibly work
at a large scale? If I have a document that the world can
annotate, and it's controversial, I could generate hundreds
of thousands of annotations (think of the number of calls to
the White House when something big is in the news). No one
can sensibly sort through such a heap. How do Webbers really
envision annotations working in practice?


Terry Allen  (
Editor, Digital Media Group
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
Sebastopol, Calif., 95472