Today I just wanted to quickly review an awesome tool called Hypothesis that I've been using all semester for two of my English classes (Currents in American Lit and Critical Theory).
I suspect that my definition of public reading is quite different than most because I’ve been actively doing it for over a year or so now. I post nearly everything I read onto my personal website, and quite often with my notes, highlights, annotations, and some brief analysis. Rarely, if ever, do people react or interact with it, though on occasion it will spark a nice, albiet short discussion. In some part, I post all of it for my own personal consumption and later search, though perhaps one day someone will come across something and it will light a bigger fire. Who knows?
It all reminds me of something my friend P.M. Forni once told me about his own writing as a scholar of the early Italian Renaissance. He said he thought it was sad that only about eleven people would ever read any of his academic writing at a very deep level, but he was far more gratified to be able to write prescriptive books on the area of civility and living a better life that were featured on Oprah and had readers in the millions. I’m happy to write on these topics and have no readers–besides myself–whatsoever.
Of course all of this to say, that as educators we still ought to provide relatively safe spaces for students to try on ideas, make arguments, and see what comes of it without damaging them in the long run.
I’ve read many online documents that have been annotated by many others, most of them in the early days of Genius.com when it was known as Rap Genius. It has been a while, however, since I’ve read something like boyd’s It’s Complicated with so many annotations by others. It is quite refreshing to see a relatively high level of work and commentary on a piece (compared to the typical dreck that one can find in most online newspapers’ comments sections.) I suspect that for some performative nature may come into play, but I find this less of a factor on more scholarly facing platforms like Hypothesis (compared to Genius.com or Twitter). Certainly one can get caught up in the idea of becoming famous or popular for their commentary.
As boyd points out in the introduction to her book, this sort of thing seems to be common human nature:
None of the videos they made were of especially high quality, and while they shared them publicly on YouTube, only their friends watched them. Still, whenever they got an additional view—even if only because they forced a friend to watch the video—they got excited.
In the end, some of it may come down to audience. For whom are you writing, annotating, or working? The vast majority of the time, I’m writing and documenting for myself. Anyone else that stumbles upon the conversation may hopefully only make it more interesting, but as often as not, except for an occasional class no one notices–and even then they may not publicly comment.
As for boyd’s book, I’m somewhat less than impressed. I’m aware of much of her work and appreciate the role she plays in the broader public conversation, but I’ve been far too close to the topic she’s writing about for far too long. I view it in a somewhat more historical framework and slightly different viewpoint than she. As a result, she’s not telling me much I didn’t already know or haven’t thought about for quite a while. I suspect that my commentary in my annotations may make this a bit more clear.
I am still working out the kinks of the Hypothes.is website, so i had trouble connecting my reading to my annotations, (I had made a hard copy in a lined notebook to feel like I had stepped back in time). I think there is a very big difference between free reading and reading for a purpose. In my cl...
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
I believe, and I try to emphasize to the students, that annotation is a deeply personal activity, my annotations may look different from yours because we think differently. ❧
We often think differently even on different readings. Sometimes upon re-reading pieces, I’ll find and annotate completely different things than I would have on the first pass. Sometimes (often with more experience and new eyes) I’ll even disagree with what I’d written on prior passes.
This process reminds me a bit of the Barbell Method of Reading
August 06, 2018 at 04:39PM
They did that to the point where there were more asterisks on the page than stars in the sky. Despite all this, the annotations did not mean anything to the students. ❧
Keeping in mind that different people learn in different ways, there’s another possible way of looking at this.
Some people learn better aurally than visually. Some remember things better by writing them down. I know a few synaesthetes who likely might learn better by using various highlighting colors. Perhaps those who highlight everything are actually helping their own brains to learn by doing this?
This said, I myself still don’t understand people who are highlighting everything in their books this way. I suspect that some are just trying and imitating what they’ve seen before and just haven’t learned to read and annotate actively.
Helping students to discover how they best learn can be a great hurdle to cross, particularly at a young age. Of course, this being said, we also need to help them exercise the other modalities and pathways to help make them more well-rounded and understanding as well.
August 06, 2018 at 04:47PM
I had almost forgotten that it was not so long ago that I’d outlined how I use Hypothesis to own my own highlights and annotations on my website. For the benefit of those in Dr. McVerry’s EDU522 course, I’ve included a link to it here.
For those who would like to see some examples you can find several below:
Specific stand-alone highlight posts
Specific stand-alone annotation posts
Other posts (typically reads) which I’ve highlighted and/or otherwise annotated things
I created the stand-alone posts using customized post kinds using some custom code for the Post Kinds Plugin.
I’ll begin tagging some of these pieces with the tag “backstage” for with how I’ve built or done certain things. You can subscribe to these future posts by adding
/feed/ to the end of the URL for this tag archive.
To some extent my IndieWeb Collection/Research page has a lot of these “backstage” type posts for those who are interested. As part of the IndieWeb community, I’ve been documenting how and what I’ve been doing on my site for a while, hopefully these backstage posts will help other educators follow in my path without need to blaze as much of it anew for themselves.
Backstage posts are in actuality a very IndieWeb thing:
As we discover new ways to do things, we can document the crap out of them. —IndieWeb.org
While I’m pondering on this, I can’t help but feel like your annotation here is somewhat meant as a reply to Kathleen. I’m left searching to see if you tweeted it with an @mention to notify her. Otherwise, your annotation seems like a cry into the void, which I’ve happened to come across.
I say this because I know that her website now supports sending and receiving Webmentions (she notes as much and references a recent article I wrote on the topic within her text.) If Hypothes.is supported sending Webmentions (a W3C recommendation) for highlights and other annotations on the page they occurred on, then the author of the post would get a notification and could potentially show it on the site (as an inline annotation) or in their comment section, which might also in turn encourage others to open up the annotation layer to do the same. Hypothesis could then not only be an annotation system, but also serve as an ad hoc commenting/conversation tool as well.
You may notice in her comment section that there are 60+ reactions/comments on her site. One or two are done within her native comment interface, and one directly from my website, but the majority are comments, likes, reshares, and mentions which are coming from Twitter by webmention. Imagine if many of them were coming from Hypothesis instead… (try clicking on one of the “@ twitter.com” links following one of the commenter’s avatars and names. What if some of those links looked like:
Ian, thanks for putting together all of these examples. I think my preference is for option three which provides the most context and seems easiest to read and understand. I like the way you’ve incorporated the blue arrow, which makes semantic sense as well.
I’m sure I’ve seen other versions, but Jon Udell has at least one example of some annotations on his own website like yours too.
When it comes to the “conversation” side of what you’re looking for, I think the biggest piece you’re really missing and which some on the Hypothes.is side (except perhaps for Nate who may have a stronger grasp of their value after the recent IndiewWeb Summit) are apt to miss is that Hypothes.is doesn’t support sending webmentions. Presently you’re putting your data out there in a one-sided manner and Hypothes.is isn’t pushing the other side or any of the follow up back to you. As a result it’s operating as a social silo the same way that sites like Facebook and Twitter do. Based on their GitHub repository, I know that they’ve considered webmentions in the past, but apparently it got put on a back burner and hasn’t been revisited.
Ideally they’d want to have webmentions work in two places. It would be great if they could send webmentions of annotations/highlights to the original page itself, so that the site owner is aware that their content is being marked up or used in this manner. This also means that Hypothes.is could be used as a full-blown and simple commenting system as well so that those who aren’t using their own sites to write replies could use Hypothes.is as an alternative. The second thing it might want to do is to send webmentions, particularly for replies, to the original page as well as to any URLs that are mentioned in the comment thread which appears on Hypothes.is. This would mean that you’d want to add the permalink to your post back to the copy you put on Hypothes.is so that you and your website stay in the loop on the entirety of the conversation. In many senses, this is just mirroring what is going on in threaded Twitter conversations that get mirrored back to your WordPress website. [I’ll note that I think I’ve got the last of the moving pieces for this Twitter/WordPress workflow properly linked up in the past week.] Since Twitter doesn’t support webmentions itself, Brid.gy is handling that part for you, but in Hypothes.is’ case you don’t have any of the details coming back for allowing you to display the discussion on your site except by doing so manually. Doing it manually for extended conversations is going to become painful over time.
From an IndieWeb perspective, you’re primarily implementing a PESOS workflow in which you post first on Hypothes.is and then send a copy of it to your own website. Naturally it would be better if you were posting all the details on your own website and using the Hypothes.is API to syndicate your copy there for additional public conversation outside of the readership of your website. Unfortunately building the infrastructure to do this is obviously quite daunting. Since they’ve got an API, you might be able to bootstrap something webmention-like onto it, but for your purposes it would obviously be easier if they had direct webmention support.
It would also be wonderful if Hypothes.is supported the micropub specification as well. Then you could ideally log into the system as your website and any annotations you made could be automatically be published to your website for later storage, display, or other use. In some sense, this is what I’m anticipating by making explicit standalone annotation and highlight post kinds on my website. In practice, however, like you, I’d prefer to have a read, like, or bookmark-type of post that aggregates all of my highlights, annotations, and marginalia of a particular piece for easier future use as well as the additional context this provides. I suspect that if I had the additional tag within the Hypothesis Aggregator plugin for WordPress that would let me specify the particular URL of an individual article, I would have most of the front side PESOS functionality we’re all looking for. The rest will require either webmention or a lot more work.
I may have mentioned it before, but in case you hadn’t found it I’ve got a handful of posts on annotations, many of which include some Hypothes.is functionality.
Not itemized in that list (yet?) are some experiments I’d done with the Rory Rosenzweig Center’s PressForward plugin for WordPress. It allowed me to use a simple browser bookmarklet to save a webpage’s content to my personal website with a rel=”canonical” tag for the page pointing at the original page. (Here’s a good example.) Because of the way the canonical set up works within Hypothes.is, I noticed that annotations I (and others) made on the original were also mirrored and available on my website as well. In my case, because PressForward was copying the entirety of the article for me, I used the <mark> HTML tag to make the highlights on my page, but with Hypothes.is enabled, it also shows the other public annotations as well. (Use of the title attribute adds some additional functionality when the mark tagged text is hovered over in most browsers.)
In another example, I annotated a copy of one of Audrey Watters’ articles (after she’d disabled the ability for Hypothesis to work on her site, but before she changed the Creative Commons licensing on her website). But here I added my annotations essentially as pull-quotes off to the side and syndicated copies to Hypothes.is by annotating the copy on my website. If you visit Audrey’s original, you’ll see that you cannot enable Hypothesis on it, but if you’re using the Chrome extension it will correctly indicate that there are five annotations on the page (from my alternate copy which indicates hers is the rel=”canonical”).
In any case, thanks again for your examples and documenting your explorations. I suspect as time goes by we’ll find a more IndieWeb-centric method for doing exactly what you’ve got in mind in an even easier fashion. Often doing things manually for a while will help you better define what you want and that will also make automating it later a lot easier.
Back in April, Audrey Watters’ decided to block annotation on her website. I understand why. When we project our identities online, our personal sites become extensions of our homes. To some online writers, annotation overlays can feel like graffiti. How can we respect their wishes while enabling conversations about their writing, particularly conversations that are intimately connected to the writing? At the New Media Consortium conference recently, I was finally able to meet Audrey in person, and we talked about how to balance these interests. Yesterday Audrey posted her thoughts about that conversation, and clarified a key point:You can still annotate my work. Just not on my websites.
Exactly! To continue that conversation, I have annotated that post here, and transcluded my initial set of annotations below.
There is the (abandoned?) Hypothesis Aggregator plugin which Nate has worked on a bit that allows a relatively easy PESOS workflow from Hypothes.is to WordPress, but you’re right that it would be nice to have a micropub version that would work for all CMSs.
Personally, I’d also love them to support Webmention which I think would be generally useful as well. There are obvious use cases for it in addition to an anti-abuse one which I’ve written about before. Perhaps if it were supported and had better anti-troll or NIPSA (Not In Public Site Areas) features folks like Audrey Watters might not block it.
Text, as the Hypothesis annotation client understands it, is HTML, or PDF transformed to HTML. In either case, it’s what you read in a browser, and what you select when you make an annotation. What’s the equivalent for audio and video? It’s complicated because although browsers enable us to select passages of text, the standard media players built into browsers don’t enable us to select segments of audio and video. It’s trivial to isolate a quote in a written document. Click to set your cursor to the beginning, then sweep to the end. Now annotation can happen. The browser fires a selection event; the annotation client springs into action; the user attaches stuff to the selection; the annotation server saves that stuff; the annotation client later recalls it and anchors it to the selection. But selection in audio and video isn’t like selection in text. Nor is it like selection in images, which we easily and naturally crop. Selection of audio and video happens in the temporal domain. If you’ve ever edited audio or video you’ll appreciate what that means. Setting a cursor and sweeping a selection isn’t enough. You can’t know that you got the right intro and outro by looking at the selection. You have to play the selection to make sure it captures what you intended. And since it probably isn’t exactly right, you’ll need to make adjustments that you’ll then want to check, ideally without replaying the whole clip.
Jon Udell has been playing around with media fragments to create some new functionality in Hypothes.is. The nice part is that he’s created an awesome little web service for quickly and easily editing media fragments online for audio and video (including YouTube videos) which he’s also open sourced on GitHub.
I suspect that media fragments experimenters like Aaron Parecki, Marty McGuire, Kevin Marks, and Tantek Çelik will appreciate what he’s doing and will want to play as well as possibly extend it. I’ve already added some of the outline to the IndieWeb wiki page for media fragments (and a link to fragmentions) which has some of their prior work.
I too look forward to a day where web browsers have some of this standardized and built in as core functionality.
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia
This selection tool has nothing intrinsically to do with annotation. It’s job is to make your job easier when you are constructing a link to an audio or video segment.
(If I were Virginia Eubanks I might want to capture the pull quote myself, and display it on my book page for visitors who aren’t seeing it through the Hypothesis lens.)
Of course, how would she know that the annotation exists? Here’s another example of where adding webmentions to Hypothesis for notifications could be useful, particularly when they’re more widely supported. I’ve outlined some of the details here in the past: http://boffosocko.com/2016/04/07/webmentions-for-improving-annotation-and-preventing-bullying-on-the-web/Syndicated copies to:
Jon, this is certainly an awesome and interesting way to target audio on the web, which can be tremendously useful.
Given what you’ve got here, I suspect that you may be unaware of the W3C spec for media fragments which may make portions of what you’re attempting to do a bit easier (and also much more standardized). The spec is relatively broadly supported by most browsers, so it immediately makes things a tad easier from a plumbing perspective.
Some people will be somewhat familiar with the targeting technique as it’s similar to the one used by YouTube which lets users hot link to specific portions of video on their platform.
To summarize the concept, on most audio and video files one can add a #t=XXX the the end of a URL where XXX is the number in seconds into the file where one wants to start. One can target stretches of audio similarly with the pattern #t=XXX,YYY where XXX is the start and YYY is the stop time for the fragment, again in seconds.
As an example I can use it to specifically target the audio on a particular standalone audio file like so:
As an added bonus, on this particular page with audio, you’ll notice that you can play the audio and if you pause it, the page URL in your browser should automatically refresh to indicate the particular audio timestamp for that particular position! Thus in your particular early example it makes things far easier to bookmark, save, or even share!
It would be nice if the user could queue up the particular audio segment and press pause, and then annotate the audio portion of the page using such a targeting segment. Then one could potentially share a specific URL for their annotation (in typical Hypothesis fashion) that not only targets the original page with the embedded audio, but it could also have that audio queued up to the correct portion (potentially with a page refresh to reset the audio depending on the annotation.)
The nice part is that the audio can be annotated within the page on which it originally lived rather than on some alternate page on the web that requires removing the context and causing potential context collapse. It also means one doesn’t have to host an intermediate page to have the whole thing work.
I’m curious if the scheme may make putting all the smaller loose pieces together even easier, particularly for use within Hypothesis? and while keeping more of the original context in which the audio was found?
I also suspect that these types of standards could be used to annotate audio in much the same way that the SoundCloud service handles their audio annotations, though in a much more open way. One would simply need to add on some additional UI to make the annotations on such audio present differently.
Have you ever heard a moment on the show that you wish you could share with your friends? Well, now you can! Shortcut is a new app we created that allows you to turn your favorite podcast moments into videos that you can post to social media. It’s kind of like making a gif, but for audio. Here’s how to use it.
I love the functionality that they’ve built into their podcast to clip and share audio snippets. It’s only a step or two further to highlight and annotate within an audio file. This is somewhat reminiscent of bits of SoundCloud’s user interface.
— Raymond Yee (@rdhyee) December 16, 2016
— Michael Shook (@mshook) December 16, 2016
— Jon Udell (@judell) December 16, 2016
— Boris Mann (@bmann) December 16, 2016
— Jim Pick (@jimpick) December 16, 2016
— Boris Mann (@bmann) December 16, 2016
— Jon Udell (@judell) December 16, 2016
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— Jim Pick (@jimpick) December 16, 2016
As a researcher, I fully appreciate the pro-commonplace book conceptualization of the first post, and the second takes things amazingly further with a plugin that allows one to easily display one’s hypothes.is annotations on one’s own WordPress-based site in a dead-simple fashion.
This functionality is a great first step, though honestly, in keeping with IndieWeb principles of owning one’s own data, I think it would be easier/better if Hypothes.is both accepted and sent webmentions. This would potentially allow me to physically own the data on my own site while still participating in the larger annotation community as well as give me notifications when someone either comments or augments on one of my annotations or even annotates one of my own pages (bits of which I’ve written about before.)
Either way, kudos to Kris Shaffer for moving the ball forward!
My Hypothes.is Notebook
My IndieWeb annotations
I can also easily embed my recent annotations about the IndieWeb below:
Syndicated copies to:
[ hypothesis user = 'chrisaldrich' tags = 'indieweb']
I’d played around with many of them in the past, but a recent conversation with Matt Gross about News Genius and their issues in the last week reminded me about internet annotation platforms. Since some of what I write here is academic in nature, I thought I would add native Hypothes.is Annotation support to the site.
If you haven’t heard about it before, you might find the ability to highlight and annotate web pages very useful. Hypothesis allows for public or private highlights and notes and it can be a very useful extension of one’s commonplace book.
At the moment, I’m not sure where it all fits into the IndieWeb infrastructure I’m building here, but, at least for the moment, I’d hope that those making public annotations and notes will also enter their commentary into the comments either here on the blog or by way of syndicated versions on Facebook or Twitter so that they’re archived here for posterity. (Keep in mind site-deaths are prevalent and even Hypothes.is acknowledges in a video on their homepage that there have been many incarnations of web annotations that have come and gone in the life of the internet.) Perhaps one day there will be a federated and cross-linked version of highlights and annotations in the IndieWeb universe with webmentions included?!
Educators and researchers interested in using web annotation are encouraged to visit the wealth of information provided by providers like Hypothes.is and Genius.com. In particular, the Hypothes.is blog has some great material and examples over the past year, and they have a special section for educators as well.
If anyone is aware of people or groups working on the potential integration of the IndieWeb movement (webmentions) and web annotation/highlighting, please include them in the comments below–I’d really appreciate it.
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