New Architect: Weighing the Risks and Rewards of Standards.
Nathan Ashby-Kuhlman: The Web needs Xanadu features, particularly "the ability to address individual paragraphs, sentences or even words in someone else's document." I couldn't agree more. We need a way to permalink to anything on the Web (to borrow a blogging term).
On that note, I've recently been throwing around ideas with Stuart and Paul about devising some sort of standardized system for accessing a part of an HTML document. I have a rudimentary system already in place on Holovaty.com: You can add
?highlight=[highlightstring] to the end of any blog URL, and it'll highlight every occurrence of [highlightstring]. What I would rather have, though, is something like
HighlightParagraph=[paragraphNumber], which would highlight an entire paragraph, or perhaps
HighlightWords=[FirstWordNumber]to[LastWordNumber], where FirstWordNumber and LastWordNumber are the word boundaries of the document's requested selection (e.g., the 25th through 36th words).
The problem with such an idea, Stuart points out, is the user interface. It would be easy to program a publishing system to highlight the appropriate content, given those query strings, but we need something that would make it easy to create such query strings in the first place. In other words, in my last example, how would a user determine the word numbers of a selection without having to count them him or herself? An interesting problem.