Web Enhancement Project Progress: August 1997
"The Other Half of Hypertext" Now Available on the
Current Project Progress, August 1997:
As part of the Foresight Institute's Web
Enhancement Project, Ka-Ping
Yee has implemented the first software enabling universal
annotation of all text on the Web.
Users can make comments on any text in Web documents immediately,
using their current browser to access the CritLink mediator (now
available at crit.org and soon to
be available on other servers). Source code has been placed in
the public domain.
CritLink enables fine-grained linking: readers can attach their
comments directly to a particular word or phrase in the target
document. The marked-up version is accessible from a extended URL
which requests the CritLink mediator to merge the original document
with its comments.
How the CritLink Mediator Works
Readers can browse the Web while requesting all documents
through the CritLink program. When a reader requests a particular
URL, the program pulls in the original text, folds in comments by
others, and then sends the enriched document to the reader. The
original text is preserved, with the comment links indicated by
small colored markers. The color of a marker depends on the role
of the comment (also called the link type): green for
"support", red for an "issue", and so on.
This type of program for intermediate processing of documents
(positioned like a proxy server but with special functionality)
has been termed a mediator.
To publish a new comment, a reader accesses the desired target
document using the CritLink mediator, and then selects the
"Comment" button to display a form for entering the
comment and link type. The comment can then be downloaded as an
HTML document to be stored on the commenter's web site. The link
information is stored at crit.org so that it can be added to the
target document when a new reader requests it from the mediator
using the extended URL.
CritMap Applet Demonstrated at EXTRO 3
A graphical interface can help web users to stay oriented in
the increasingly-tangled set of documents on the web. Terry Stanley has written a
Java applet that provides a graphical display of both forward and
backward links between documents, enabling the reader to get an
overview of a connected set of documents, rather than hopping
from page to page with no picture of the context. An early
version of this applet will soon be accessible through a button
in the CritLink mediator program.
Copyright on Comments
Commenters hold copyright on, and are responsible for, the
content of their published comments; these do not necessarily
reflect the opinion of Foresight Institute or other organizations
using the CritLink mediator software. These organizations reserve the
right to remove or modify data on their servers at any time
Ka-Ping Yee demonstrates his
CritLink mediator software to Eric Drexler and to hypertext pioneer