Annotations at the W3C

For a while now, a dedicated group of individuals has been working towards a web annotation standard– the idea being that annotation is something that will be fundamental to the future of web and should be interoperable, and eventually incorporated into browsers. This effort began first as two separate groups, Annotation Ontology and Open Annotation Collaboration, which then joined forces and last year were invited to form a Community group under the W3C–the standards body for the Web. This April, a workshop was organized to explore the possibility of a formal Working Group. A charter was drafted, and in August, the membership of the W3C overwhelmingly voted in the Web Annotation Working Group.

The first chance for a face to face meeting of this new group came during the recent 2014 W3C TPAC meeting in Santa Clara, California, October 27-31, which is the annual gathering of the advisory council and many of the active working groups. This year also happened to be particularly special in that it was the 25th anniversary of the Web and the 20th anniversary of the W3C.

We decided to take advantage of the opportunity to capture the insights of some of the key people working on annotation standards, who have a historical perspective on how we got here, and why it’s important– including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web and the Director of the W3C, who mentioned annotation as one of the web’s requirements in his initial proposal in 1989.

We edited these insights into the short video above. You might find it helpful in understanding the rationale behind annotation and why we think it’s such a big deal.