UCTL/Online Tools

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More on the search for a quality annotation tool.

Annotation tools

Thinking aloud about online annotation tools. [Not collaboration]--Derekc 23:51, 17 July 2008 (NZST)

Sad. Coventi has closed down. This was unique in my experience in it's aspiration. Commmenting, but NOT postit style. Like a real highlighter and a comment. And I dislike little postits stuck all over the place.

http://www.coventi.com/ http://coventi.wordpress.com/2007/03/01/what-makes-coventi-pages-different/

From: http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2007/03/19/collaborative_document_writing_online_word.htm

Coventi Pages greatest strength is the ability to quickly highlight and annotate documents by leaving text-specific comments 'in the margins' as it were.

The Coventi team, illustrating the major differences between their product and those of their competitors, draw the analogy of scribbling in the margins of a hard copy document.

The Coventi team points out that the vast majority of online collaborative writing tools take a wiki-approach to documents - i.e. everyone is considered a co-author. When you work with a wiki-based platform like SocialText or Near-Time, the fundamental premise is that anyone with access to a document can go in and edit it - you are working within an open collaboration space. Also Google Docs & Spreadsheets works in a similar way, but allows you to invite people either as collaborators, or as viewers, who can look at documents without being able to edit them.

Coventi Pages takes a different approach, and one that is based on the principle that the vast majority of uses for a collaborative writing applications will not include open co-authoring, but rather one or two key authors supported by others that may leave comments on their documents. Examples of this scenario might include:

  • A teacher or lecturer giving feedback on their student's assignment
  • A consultant making suggestions and comments on a client's document
  • A manager highlighting required changes to a member of their team in a corporate report
  • An editor giving blow-by-blow critique and feedback to one of their writing team

These situations do not call for a co-authoring approach, or that of a locked-out viewer reading through a document with no ability to suggest changes, but rather a simple way to add comments, suggestions and feedback without changing the text itself. Coventi Pages is built around this need.

Ownership of the document remains that of the original author, but consensus-building and discussion are foregrounded, rather than bolted on as an additional feature.

As is often the case in real classrooms, newsrooms and offices, suggestions are made to the original author of the document, so that they can go away and implement the necessary changes themselves.

This is a fundamentally different approach to that of the open wiki, which can very often leave some participants reticent to introduce changes for fear of getting it wrong or treading on someone else's toes.

At the time coventi folded (earlier this year) I didn't think much about it. I was sad, I wondered what would have happened if they had just gone OS and given it away. I figured something would emerge. But on a little looking around, I have not found anything quite as distinct. There are a bunch of online highlighters and annotaters.

More tools than you can use . .

I have not really used these much. In general: too many postits or not enough people who share the same tool set.

  1. Shared Copy: http://sharedcopy.com/
  2. Awesome highlighter http://www.awesomehighlighter.com/
  3. Diigo http://www.diigo.com/ Research/collaboration focus "Highlight and Share the Web! - Diigo is a powerful research tool and a knowledge-sharing community - Research and Collaborate
     * Don't just bookmark! Highlight the web! Add sticky notes too!
     * Access and search your findings from any PC or iphone!
     * Create groups to pool resources for specific projects"
  1. There is even video annotations. http://news.cnet.com/webware/?keyword=annotations. (Which I think is quite cool: ecto in Hamilton tried this, and I think they did quite well)
  2. Co-ment http://www.co-ment.net/
  3. Fleck http://fleck.com/
  4. Marginalia http://www.geof.net/code/annotation/

[I got this far and found http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_annotation which lists a lot more]

There are a bunch of 'collaborative' tools at the document level - not annotation: Wikis, Zotero, Google docs etc

Temporary Conclusion:

  1. Co-ment seems the best for me. It provides a pane at the side, with comments as opposed to postit metaphor. It is hosted on the web somewhere. But it is still a little clunky, and needs some interface design . . .
  2. Marginalia is really cool: maybe not quite as mature yet. Minimalist.
  3. Nothing quite as good as Coventi
  4. Should we ask Google to write something?
  5. But then I'd prefer it able to be hosted locally.

Papers on this topic

"Web annotation has been a popular research topic since the appearance of Internet and its supplementary technologies. This paper provides a literature review in the related research areas, and introduces some currently available web annotation systems with the comparison of these systems in seven aspects. In addition, this paper incorporates a description of the ongoing NeoNote project, and identifies limitations of this study for future work."

Applying Collaborative Tagging to E-Learning - Scott Bateman - Christopher Brooks - Gordon McCalla

Synchoronizing Tools

Need a good backup/synching app for desktop to USD drive.

Vice Versa

http://www.tgrmn.com/web/upgrade/vvpro2.htm PRO: $US60 PLUS $US30

Note: Only pro does multiple sets of folders at once. Plus is limited to one set of folders. Cannot see if you can set up exclusions. --Derekc 12:13, 19 July 2008 (NZST)

SmartSync Pro

http://www.smartsync.com/smartsyncpro/ $US45

Foldermatch Folderclone

http://www.foldermatch.com/ $US45




From the website: "Use our InSync folder synchronizer to efficiently replicate entire groups of folders and the files within. Perform backups or propagate data from one machine to another with ease. Define and run multiple synchronization jobs specifying one or more source folders, synchronized to one or more target folders. Schedule jobs to run daily, weekly, or monthly with InSync's built-in scheduler interface. Avoid redundant data movement and resource underutilization by copying only data that has changed and by taking full advantage of multi thread processing to support concurrent execution of multiple tasks"

Notes: Good, but no beep when finished, little indication of progress or activity, does multi folders with exclusions. --Derekc 11:59, 19 July 2008 (NZST)


http://www.goodsync.com/index.html Crippled trial version after 30 days.



Notes: Can have lots of folders set up to sync, and can run them all. Exclusions at the folder pair level and global. Free version is crippled: limited as to how many files you can synchonize --Derekc 12:03, 19 July 2008 (NZST)


Diagram Designer

Freeware. http://meesoft.logicnet.dk/


List of tools for discussion groups: http://get.cooptools.ca/hosting_online_discussion_groups

Mentions Jiglu: http://www.jigluhood.com/

Word tools