In Foresight Update
27, I described HyperWave, a web-based software program that
appeared to fulfill all the requirements Foresight has been trying to fill
for years: fine-grained extrinsic (i.e. unapproved, third party) bi-directional
links in hypertext publishing.
We've run into a glitch with HyperWave. It does indeed have fine-grained,
extrinsic, bi-directional links; however, these links are not visible in
the original document. Instead, alongside the original document, one gets
a list of URLs to visit. If the reader follows that list of coarse-grained
extrinsic links to the commenting document, and then follows links back
from that commenting document to the original document, then the fine-grained
nature of the commenting links becomes apparent. That is, the commented-on
section is highlighted in the original document, when visited from the commenting
document. This may sound a bit confusing, but the upshot of it all is that
when you're looking at a document and you want to see embedded commenting
links, they aren't there.
Our plans had included joining the Hyper-G Consortium in order to obtain
the source code, so that we could fix any glitches that came up, such as
this one; however, in the last few months the open Hyper-G code has been
commercialized into HyperWave and source code can no longer be obtained,
so our plans to alter it will no longer work.
One of IMM's Senior Associates,
Dave Forrest, is communicating with the HyperWave company to see whether
this needed feature can be added. However, we have very little influence
with this company, and we can't depend on this as a solution.
When we hit this roadblock with HyperWave we looked back at our previous
options -- the options we considered prior to selecting HyperWave as our
first choice -- and found that our preferred solution involved extending
some public domain annotation code originally written by Wayne
Gramlich. (The term "annotation" is frequently used to describe
what we've been calling comments, extrinsic links, or third-party comments.)
Although Wayne now works for a startup company and cannot take the
Annotator project further, Foresight is fortunate to have located a
programmer who is very interested in completing the project, and who has
immediately started work on this full-time. This is Terry Stanley, who has
a long-time interest in argumentation visualization. She is being assisted
by Ka-Ping Yee, a summer intern at Xerox PARC.
So not only do we expect that the Annotator code will be taken to a useable
state and installed on our server, but also that Terry will continue to
develop this code to make some really useful and unique graphical methods
for argumentation visualization, which should be of great use when we get
into having real debates on complex issues, and find ourselves needing all
the support we can get in figuring out difficult, complex issues.
For ongoing nanotechnology