Replied to A thread on Hypothes.is in relation to Audrey Watters' Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2015: Indie Ed-Tech by Audrey Watters, Jeremy Dean, Dan Whaley (Hack Education / Hypothes.is)

it supports students and teachers and schools in managing their own infrastructure, their own labor, their own data.

—Audrey Watters

Ok, so is hypothes.is doing this? How can it?

  • my annotations must be better accessible/organizable --the current "My Annotations" is not enough
  • annotation must be exportable

—jeremydean on Dec 30, 2015


And ultimately, you need to be able to completely run your own annotation infrastructure, but create and access it through a universal client.

—dwhly on Dec 30, 2015


Sure. Less clear to me how that looks/works and what that I do today online is similar in "ownership." But does your "you" refer to students or teachers or schools or all of the above?

The first two (I list) seem key in terms of practical adherence to these principles for everyday users.

—jeremydean on Dec 30, 2015


It's similar in character to the Domain of One's Own initiative. From a long term perspective, you might be better off taking ownership of your own infrastructure, that you can carry with you and guarantee will be available over long time periods (decades to centuries). Hypothes.is should at the very least permit you to do so if you prefer-- regardless of whether we continue to provide an annotation service at scale (which I very much think we should).

Your question around "you" is an important one. I might for instance, set up my own annotation server for my personal notes-- with the confidence that I'll always be able to find a reliable hosting provider for those. Similar to how I have my own web domain, and I host it at one place now, but I can always move it if that location goes out of business-- and my website will be identical to its current form in the new place. In the same way, my current personal email is through an address at my own domain. I don't need to depend on gmail being around forever.

As a teacher, I might use a more common service provider (like Hypothes.is) for class lessons-- one that my students are already likely to have accounts on. As web travelers, we're really accustomed to browsing seamlessly between servers-- it's understood to be the essential architecture of the web. Bringing it to the world of annotations has extraordinary benefits (IMHO) and will serve to foster more adoption and more diversity of applications.

—dwhly on Dec 30, 2015

I’ve been thinking over some of this question for the better part of a decade and even more pointedly since November.

Some of what I’ve been looking at relates back to the renaissance ideas of the commonplace book as well as memory techniques dating back to ancient Greece and even further back. There are ideas like wikis (personal as well as public–Audrey references a great post by Mike Caulfield in her article) and online notebooks tools like Evernote, OneNote, TiddlyWiki, Roam Research, etc. If a student could quickly add all their highlights/annotations into their website, online notebook, Zettelkasten, or other related learning tools, then they could use them for reading, reviewing, or even spaced repetition as provided by platforms like Anki, Mnemosyne, or NeuraCache.

Going back to Jeremy’s original question though:

Ok, so is hypothes.is doing this? How can it?

Hypothesis could immediate do this and quite effectively if it supported the W3C recommended Micropub spec. In short, it’s a standard and open source method for publishing data to a broad spectrum of surfaces so that developers don’t need to build custom solutions for each of thousands of snowflake platforms.

That is, in addition to its current functionality, you could add some code to make Hypothesis a Micropub client!

The quickest and most flexible approach I might suggest would be to allow users to publish their annotations/highlights not only to their accounts, but have UI to trigger a micropub request to their website, online notebook, or other platform.

There’s nothing more I’d want than an easy way to own all the data I’m collecting with Hypothesis and Micropub could quickly add it for a wide variety of set ups and systems. There are already implementations of Micropub servers for a variety of CMS software including WordPress, Drupal, Known, Craft, Jekyll, Kirby, Hugo, Blot, and Micro.blog with others being added, including Grav. Some of us are actively working on adding it to Wiki-related software as well. Since large portions of the Domain of One’s Own movement are built on these handful, you’d have some pretty quick coverage of not only all this space but even more.

I suspect your dev team could build an implementation in just a few days and it would open up a huge advantage for allowing users to more easily own their H related data on their own websites or in other online locations (while still utilizing the Hypothesis platform for more complex functionality).

There’s some solid documentation and a wealth of open source clients you could look at or borrow code from as well as a test suite. I suspect the IndieWeb Dev chat channel would surface a few additional developers to answer questions about any other issues as they crop up.

If you’d like a quick 5-10 minute demo of how this works for a handful of other clients in conjunction with something like WordPress, I’m happy to volunteer the time and spitball some potential ways Hypothesis could dovetail it and leverage its power.

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

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