Timothy W. Cole
Assistant Engineering Librarian for Information Services
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
This collaborative project (5 institutions), just now getting underway, seeks to engender a Web and Resource-centric interoperable annotation environment that will allow scholars to leverage annotations of digital resources across the boundaries of annotation clients, annotation servers, and content collections. To this end, a shared annotation data model and interoperability specification will be devised. These will be designed to facilitate the implementation of advanced end-user annotation services targeted at scholars and capable of operating across a broad range of both scholarly and general collections. Data model and specification will be developed so as to allow customization of annotation services for specific scholarly communities without reducing interoperability. The proposed work also will enable more robust machine-to-machine interactions and automated analysis, aggregation and reasoning over distributed annotations and annotated resources.
Promulgating data models and specifications alone is not enough and should not happen in isolation from current practice and real-world implementation. By grounding the work in a thorough understanding of Web-centric interoperability and embedded models implemented by existing digital annotation tools and services, an interoperable annotation environment can be created that will allow scholars and tool-builders to leverage prior tool development work and traditional models of scholarly annotation, while simultaneously enabling the evolution of these models and tools to make the most of the potential offered by the Web environment. To help insure and seed broad adoption, an outside panel of experts will serve as project advisory committee that will create a baseline reference implementation of the data model and specification, and they will work closely from the outset with established application developers (e.g., Zotero) and general and specialized repositories of scholarly content (e.g., JSTOR and MONK). In subsequent phases of work a selection of prototype and production tools will be implemented that address real scholarly needs. These will demonstrate functionality and value-added services enabled by the specification in settings characterized by a variety of annotation client/server environments, content collections, and scholarly use cases. Project timeline calls for public release of data model and specifications by the middle of 2010.
Other project participants include Herbert Van de Sompel (Los Alamos National Laboratory), Daniel Cohen (George Mason University), Brian Kenney (Library Journal), Jane Hunter (University of Queensland), and Robert Sanderson (University of Queensland).