Meeting Announcement: Open Annotation Data Model Public Rollouts

We are pleased to announce three public meetings introducing the Open Annotation Data Model Community Specification. These day-long public rollouts, carried out in concert with the Annotation Ontology and the Open Annotation Collaboration, and made possible by generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will inform digital humanities and sciences computing developers, curators of digital collections and scholars using digital content about the W3C Open Annotation Community Group’s work.

Participants will learn about the data model’s core features and advanced modules through tutorials, a showcase of existing implementations, Q&A sessions with community implementers and live demonstrations. Topics will include:

  • The Open Annotation Data Model,
  • The W3C Open Annotation Community Group,
  • Existing implementations,
  • Developer tools & resources.

Rollout times and places:

  • U.S. West Coast Rollout – 09 April 2013 at Stanford University (RSVP)
  • U.S. East Coast Rollout – 06 May 2013 at the University of Maryland (RSVP)
  • U.K. Rollout – 24 June 2013 at the University of Manchester (RSVP)

There is no registration fee but RSVP (online) is required. RSVP for a rollout near you using one of the links above or by visiting:


Meeting Announcement: Sept. 18 & 19 F2F to work on core and extension specifications

In addition to regular teleconferences to conduct general and specific Community Group business, we are also planning occasional, special-purpose face-to-face meetings as needed to move forward on Group priorities. The first of these will take place September 18-19 in Chicago, IL (USA) and will be a working meeting to advance development of the Open Annotation Core Data Model andExtension SpecificationMeeting will begin at 9 AM on Sept. 18 and conclude by 2 PM on Sept. 19.

This meeting will be co-chaired by the specification editors — Paolo Ciccarese, Rob Sanderson, and Herbert Van de Sompel — all of whom have confirmed their plans to attend in person. The meeting is open to all registered Participants in the Open Annotation Community Group, ensuring that those attending have agreed to the W3C Community Contributor License Agreement, but please keep in mind that the Group has been growing in recent days, and the venue we have been able to secure for this meeting has limited capacity. If interested in attending, please RSVP by email to Jacob Jett ( and me ( by no later than August 21st; sooner if possible, since available seats will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis.

For those who RSVP, we’ll forward you additional logistics details, including recommended hotel. Full final agenda will be posted to the Community Group listserv a week in advance of the meeting. We are hoping that interested Community Group members will help us to summarize in advance a few of the recent discussions about features and aspects of the data model, including proposals for specific modifications to the specifications. These “issue briefs” (e.g., 2 or 3 pages each) will be circulated to the entire Group prior to the meeting. More about this in a subsequent post.

We wish to acknowledge our appreciation to the Open Annotation Collaboration and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for underwriting logistics and venue expenses for this meeting; however, please note that in general we do not have budget to provide travel support for attendees.

Tim Cole, co-coordinator for outreach
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Initial Draft of Integrated Open Annotation – Annotation Ontology Data Model Released

We are pleased to announce that, in collaboration with the folks from the Annotation Ontology (AO) initiative, we have completed the initial merger of our two data modeling approaches.  The documents linked below represent the result of 6 months concerted effort, two face to face meetings and some initial feedback from invited experts from both groups plus the W3C.  We believe that they represent a good consensus of best practices and cross-community requests from all of the stakeholders; however, we welcome further comment and suggestions. This draft should not be considered final, pending broader, public review and discussion.

The Core Specification:

And the Extensions Specification:

We would also like to remind the community about the W3C Open Annotation Community Group. The Community Group is free to join, your institution does not need to be a member of the W3C. Participants who join agree to the terms of W3C Contributor License Agreement. While we encourage joining the Group, discussion lists of the Group are public and do not require that you be a member of the Group to read and comment.

The Open Annotation Community Group:

As a primary goal of the Open Annotation Community Group is reconciling the two specifications to produce a joint, merged data model and specification, the majority of the discussions taking place to refine the above documents will be taking place in the Community Group, rather than crossing between the various modes of communication of OAC, AO and the W3C.

We look forwards to your feedback!

MITH-OAC Phase II Project Update for January 2012

Currently, the OAC development team at Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) is busy working the ins and outs of their development milestones. As of now, there is source code available on Github ( containing the skeleton functionality and design for a Streaming Video Annotation tool. The tool itself has no streaming video, but it does contain functionality to draw shapes on an SVG (RaphaelJS) canvas and sync them with a timer.

Instead of just pointing to the source code and letting those interested and with technical knowledge pick it apart, let’s take a moment to explain our methodology and why we chose the path we took. Our annotation tool is written in Javascript with our own in-house framework, MITHGrid. MITHGrid is developed by James Smith as a faceted browsing system for client-side data that mimics the Simile and Infusion projects. MITHGrid widgets are written using Applications, which house any number of DataStores, or triple-stores, on the client-side. DataStores are broken up by Views, which act like filters for the data inside a particular DataStore (e.g. “Give me all the blue squares in DataStore A”). Presentations then take the filtered data from the Views and render them on the screen. This results in a chain-effect where all data added, updated, or removed within a DataStore flows directly into the Presentation rendering that data, thus allowing for quick updates.

Javascript is being used because of its flexibility with other browsers and its familiarity with the staff. The triple-store data format is being used along with MITHGrid as it conforms well to the principles of the Semantic Web and Linked Data which are recognized and mirrored in the OAC beta specifications. In the specifications, Annotations are defined as connecting two elements together: a Target and a Body (i.e. A Body points to a Target). To expand any annotation (e.g. Add creators, constraints to the annotation Target or Body, etc.) additional triple-store items are added to the main annotation object. This is reflected in a MITHGrid DataStore. Each item has key-value pairs that act as the other two-thirds of the triple store system. An annotation in a MITHGrid DataStore would be represented as:

Annotation [

id -> 1,
    hasTarget -> targetId
hasBody   -> bodyId
    -> creatorId


Going between RDF and the MITHGrid JSON data is therefore simplified, since both use the same principles of triples and data storage. Currently, we are working on approaching this problem using NodeJS to ingest external metadata and convert it into JSON. More on that topic will be in a future blog post.

The progress with the OAC Streaming Video Annotation Client is under an ECL2 License and available via Github to clone and pick apart (

OAC Phase II Project beginning Development at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities

We at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), University of Maryland College Park, have recently begun development on a streaming annotation video client for the Alexander Street Press catalog of educational films. The service intends to use the Open Annotation Collaboration (OAC) beta specifications in order to store annotations on the client that coordinate with specific frames of streaming video. The schedule for development plans to have a full working prototype early next year (2012). As of now, we have managed to code a working prototype of the shape drawing canvas, which will be used to select regions of video for annotation.

In addition, I am attending the Interedition Bootcamp conference in Wuerzburg, Germany. Interedition is a focus group of domain experts to discuss and implement interoperable tools for the Digital Humanities. MITH was invited to attend the conference in order to offer our experience and learn from others on interoperability in online annotation tools. So far, the OAC beta specifications have gained a lot of interest among the participants due to their support for working across platforms. To learn more about Interedition and what is happening at the Wuerzburg conference, check their wiki or follow my posts at the MITH blog (Note: my posts are buried along with all the other interesting stuff going on at MITH!).

Grant Dickie
Web Programmer and Programmer for OAC Phase II
Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities
University of Maryland, College Park

jdickie at umd dot edu

Brown University Library using Open Annotation in an annotation framework for Fedora

The Brown University Library is developing an annotation framework for Fedora using the Open Annotation data model. This project will implement the Open Annotation data model for an instance of Fedora Commons digital repository software package. The investigators at Brown hope to interlink annotations built with their annotation experiment directly to the TEI-encoded texts contained in their Fedora repository in order to explore how annotations can be targeted to words, structural elements, and semantic data encoded within textual documents. This work will feature items from the Brown University Women’s Writers Project and other collections of digitized texts used by the students and faculty at Brown. This annotation demonstration experiment is being funded in part by the Open Annotation Collaboration Phase II project. For more information on Brown’s annotation demonstration experiment please contact:

Andrew Ashton
Center for Digital Scholarship
Brown University, Box A
Providence, R.I. 02912
phone: (401)863-2669

or visit

Open Annotation Beta Data Model Released!

The Collaboration is pleased to announce the release of the Beta version of the Open Annotation data model. This version follows on from discussions at the Workshop held in March in Chicago, and should inform the experiments currently starting up after the awards made from the RFP. Note that there are no changes from the Alpha3 model, only additions and clarifications. In particular:
• There is a discussion document ( about how to deal with multiple constraints. Any feedback on this issue is greatly appreciated.
• There is clarification of the machine readable body annotation pattern in the Guidelines document.
• There is a document listing the different types of constraint known, and a wiki area set up for community development of further constraints.
• There is a document that will list different types (classes) of annotation, and the same sort of wiki area for development.
Further examples will be available over the next few weeks, and we welcome any submissions of new example documents.