What's That Noise?! [Ian Kallen's Weblog]

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20050530 Monday May 30, 2005

Annotation Shmannotation Among the most interesting things that the blogospere has demonstrated in the last few years is its capacity as a medium for distributed conversation and meme propagation. Implicit and spontaneous communities coalesce and atrophy and the web has become the transport for peer-to-peer publishing.

A post showed up recently on Ideant, Facilitating the social annotation and commentary of web pages that drew me in but then turned me off. It's a review of working or proposed systems that use anchor/name tags, rdf, autolink-ish page transformations and browser plugins for annotation systems. There's a lot of great stuff there about eliminating the distinction between authors and respondents, filtering, open infrastructure, and so on (read it)... but I can't figure out the emphasis on annotation.

The post goes badly astray with this requirement for distributed textual discourse:

Hypertextual granularity. Discourse participants are able to hypertextually annotate every fragment of an online text, instead of having to refer to online texts as wholes which cannot be annotated.
Every fragment? If I want to identify a particular sentence or two as part of a conversation, I'd be more inclined to simply cite and respond:
  <blockquote cite="http://ideant.typepad.com/ideant/2005/05/facilitating_th.html#challenges">
    Discourse participants are able to hypertextually annotate every fragment of an online text
  Well, that level of granularity is an edge case requirement
In fact, the ability to address every fragment of text is not a requirement for dispersed discourse. That all of these systems reviewed to support annotation are so intrusive on the author is indicative of how problematic this requirement is.

HTML's intrinsic support for linking, anchoring and citing provide a sufficient medium for binding together dispersed discourse. Browser plugins? Your blog is your platform for citation. Parallel universes (rdf) or structural modifications to make everything "citable" beyond the author's original intention smells like gratuitous complexity. Let the web be the web.

( May 30 2005, 10:30:55 PM PDT ) Permalink

One Chance Only for Mozilla Mail to Thunderbird Migration? A family member had mistakenly hit "Cancel" when firing up Thunderbird for the first time when prompted to import from Mozilla/Netscape 7. Astonishingly, the Thunderbird developers don't make that option available from that point forward. You can import from Eudora, Outlook (yea, this is a Windows box) or Navigator 4 but there's no option to import from Mozilla. Must be graduates from the School of Masochistic User Interfaces.

Assuming the user (or you if this is your problem) hasn't starting using the Thunderbird installation so the profile can be safely, here's the work around:


More details and scenario options are available at mozillaZine

( May 30 2005, 01:14:41 PM PDT ) Permalink