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Web Annotation

Building blocks for interoperable annotation systems

The idea of web annotation is to support the creation and exchange of annotations on any visited page; thereby enabling people to make, share, and discover corrections, rebuttals, side-notes, or other contextually relevant resources. Using the W3C’s Web Annotation standard, and contributing to the incubating Apache Annotator project, this project works on modules and tools that facilitate a diverse ecosystem of interoperable annotation systems.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Undoubtedly you have come across some article, wiki entry, video or comment that made you want to react immediately. Maybe someone was looking for some obscure artist you know everything about, a question was answered incorrectly, or an article left out some essential bit of information. Or you simply did not have the time to go through everything and wanted to leave a reminder for yourself, 'must watch this when home'. But to leave a comment or pin a note to a page, you need to login to some service you don't know, fill in your name and email address, and instead of all the hassle you simply leave it alone and close the page.

What if creating and exchanging annotations on the web would be as simple as writing down a note on a piece of paper? Instead of using all sorts of different tools and apps that do not interoperate, there is an organized effort of standardization communities and open source developers to make open, flexible and extendable annotation technology.

This project will use a new standard format for annotations for new tools and solutions that can recognize and enrich each other, ultimately creating a fluid and friction-less environment for web annotation. Users will be able to easily add comments or notes to a web page, read other people's annotations of their choice and search through useful items, all from the comfort of their browser. Web annotation can make search and discovery richer and more intuitive, but only when the technology used is sufficiently interoperable and open that for a user, it is as simple as browsing, or as scribbling their thoughts on a page.

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This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.

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