My take is that the web could feel warmer and more lively than it is. Visiting a webpage could feel a little more like visiting a park and watching the world go by. Visiting my homepage could feel just a tiny bit like stopping by my home. And so to celebrate my blogging streak reaching one year, this week, I’m adding a proof of concept to my blog, something I’m provisionally calling Social Attention.
If somebody else selects some text, it’ll be highlighted for you. ❧
Suddenly social annotation has taken an interesting twist. @Hypothes_is better watch out! 😉
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:03AM
How often have you been on the phone with a friend, trying to describe how to get somewhere online? Okay go to Amazon. Okay type in “whatever”. Okay, it’s the third one down for me…
This is ridiculous!
What if, instead, you both went to the website and then you could just say: follow me. ❧
There are definitely some great use cases for this.
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:05AM
A status emoji will appear in the top right corner of your browser. If it’s smiling, there are other people on the site right now too. ❧
This is pretty cool looking. I’ll have to add it as an example to my list: Social Reading User Interface for Discovery.
We definitely need more things like this on the web.
It makes me wish the Reading.am indicator were there without needing to click on it.
I wonder how this sort of activity might be built into social readers as well?
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:13AM
If I’m in a meeting, I should be able to share a link in the chat to a particular post on my blog, then select the paragraph I’m talking about and have it highlighted for everyone. Well, now I can. ❧
And you could go a few feet farther if you added [fragment](https://indieweb.org/fragmention) support to the site, then the browser would also autoscroll to that part. Then you could add a confetti cannon to the system and have the page rain down confetti when more than three people have highlighted the same section!
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:18AM
I want the patina of fingerprints, the quiet and comfortable background hum of a library. ❧
A great thing to want on a website! A tiny hint of phatic interaction amongst internet denizens.
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:20AM
What I’d like more of is a social web that sits between these two extremes, something with a small town feel. So you can see people are around, and you can give directions and a friendly nod, but there’s no need to stop and chat, and it’s not in your face. It’s what I’ve talked about before as social peripheral vision (that post is about why it should be build into the OS). ❧
I love the idea of social peripheral vision online.
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:22AM
streak: New posts for 52 consecutive weeks. ❧
It’s kind of cool that he’s got a streak counter for his posts.
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:24AM
I’ve updated my footer so the copyright dates include 2021. I’ve also updated the Webmention button so that it now points at my standalone endpoint for those who may not see or want to use the input box on individual posts. Finally I modified the text that appears on both the standalone endpoint as well as the individual post boxes on each post so that the same text works to properly describe both cases.
I also spent some time trying to fix my fragmention/fragmentioner, but I’m not quite there yet.
In 1965 Ted Nelson imagined a system of interactive, extendable text where words would be freed from the constraints of paper documents. This hypertext would make documents linkable.
Twenty years later, Tim Berners Lee took inspiration from Nelson's vision, as well as other narratives like Vannevar Bush's Memex, to create the World Wide Web. Hypertext came to life.
There are a few missing pieces for the primacy of some of these ideas. The broader concept of the commonplace book predated Nelson and Bush by centuries and surely informed much (if not all) of their thinking about these ideas. It’s assuredly the case that people already had the ideas either in their heads or written down and the links between them existed only in their minds or to some extent in indices as can be found in the literature—John Locke had a particularly popular index method that was widely circulated.
The other piece I find missing is a more historical and anthropological one which Western culture has wholly discounted until recently. There’s a pattern around the world of indigenous peoples in primarily oral cultures using mnemonic techniques going back at least 40,000 years. Many of these techniques were built into daily life in ways heretofore unimagined in modern Western Culture, but which are a more deeply layered version of transclusion imagined here. In some sense they transcluded almost all of their most important knowledge into their daily lives. The primary difference is that all the information was stored visually and associatively in the minds of people rather than on paper (through literacy) or via computers. The best work I’ve seen on the subject is Lynne Kelly’s Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory and the Transmission of Culture which has its own profound thesis and is underpinned by a great deal of archaeologic and anthropologic primary research. Given its density I recommend her short lecture Modern Memory, Ancient Methods which does a reasonable job of scratching the surface of these ideas.
Another fantastic historical precursor of these ideas can be found in ancient Jewish writings like the Mishnah which is often presented as an original, more ancient text surrounded by annotated interpretations which are surrounded by other re-interpretations on the same page. Remi Kalir and Antero Garcia have a good discussion of this in their book Annotation (MIT Press, 2019).
It would create a more layered and nuanced form of hypertext – something we’re exploring in the Digital Gardening movement. We could build accumulative, conversational exchanges with people on the level of the word, sentence, and paragraph, not the entire document. Authors could fix typos, write revisions, and push version updates that propogate across the web the same way we do with software. ❧
The Webmention spec allows for resending notifications and thus subsequent re-parsing and updating of content. This could be a signal sent to any links to the content that it had been updated and allow any translcuded pages to update if they wished.
Annotated on February 09, 2021 at 02:38PM
In this idealised utopia we obviously want to place value on sharing and curation as well as original creation, which means giving a small fraction of the payment to the re-publisher as well.We should note monetisation of all this content is optional. Some websites would allow their content to be transcluded for free, while others might charge hefty fees for a few sentences. If all goes well, we’d expect the majority of content on the web to be either free or priced at reasonable micro-amounts. ❧
While this is nice in theory, there’s a long road strewn with attempts at micropayments on the web. I see new ones every six months or so. (Here’s a recent one: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqrvNoDE35lFDUv2enkaEKuo6ATBj9GmL)
This also dramatically misses the idea of how copyright and intellectual property work in many countries with regard to fair use doctrine. For short quotes and excerpts almost anyone anywhere can do this for free already. It’s definitely nice and proper to credit the original, but as a society we already have norms for how to do this.
Annotated on February 09, 2021 at 02:46PM
Transclusion would make this whole scenario quite different. Let’s imagine this again… ❧
A great example can be found at https://www.kartikprabhu.com/articles/marginalia
This reminds me that I need to kick my own server to fix the functionality on my main site and potentially add it to a few others.
Annotated on February 09, 2021 at 02:59PM
We can easily imagine transclusions going the way of the public comments section. ❧
There are definitely ways around this, particularly if it is done by the site owner instead of enabled by a third party system like News Genius or Hypothes.is.
Examples of this in the wild can be found at https://indieweb.org/annotation#Annotation_Sites_Enable_Abuse.
Annotated on February 09, 2021 at 03:04PM
My first question is: is there a list of CSS features for styling the way quotes look on one’s site? Your defaults are pretty solid, but I’m sure folks will want to tinker. Is there a way to contribute different styles to a list of a handful that the extension could make select-able on my site?
Second, I haven’t actually been able to use the functionality at all. It took a few minutes to find the pop up window that I ignored on install to figure out the
ctrl-shift-s command. Once that was sorted, I’ve got another browser extension (The Great Suspender) that uses this same key sequence which then triggers that and not Quotebacks. Perhaps having the ability to custom configure the key sequence would be useful as would the ability to click on the browser extension icon as a means of triggering the quote save (a common pattern for extensions).
I’ll also note that even after disabling the other conflicting extension and refreshing, the
ctrl-shift-s still doesn’t work, but I’m not sure what the conflict or issue may be. Having a few methods for triggering save would definitely be a benefit.
Finally, in addition to some of the other discussion I’ve seen which may nudge you to support fragmentions, Google just released highlight and scroll across the web from search this past week. Like fragmention, it provides an alternate method for a link to go to a webpage, scroll to and highlight the quoted portion(s). Perhaps a nice additional feature? (I suspect that fragmention may be easier and simpler to support.)
A screenshot appears below:
Here’s a shortened URL for it that you can share with others: bit.ly
It’s a creative inverse of blackout poetry where instead of blacking out extraneous words, one can just highlight them instead. This comes courtesy of some new browser based functionality that Google announced earlier this week relating to some of their search and page snippets functionality.
You can find some code and descriptions for how to accomplish this in the WISC Scroll to Text Github repository.
What kind of poetry will you find online this week?
Search Engine Land is the leading industry source for daily, must-read news and in-depth analysis about search engine technology.
It doesn’t seem to be available everywhere just yet.
SearchEngineLand notes that this could have an impact on the ad market, since a website’s visitors may be automatically scrolled down past its ads to the relevant content. The publication notes that sites may need to change the location of their ads in light of Google’s latest feature. ❧
And of course there will be crazy implications for the adtech space.
Annotated on June 04, 2020 at 09:30AM
Clicking the snippet still takes you to the webpage that it pulled the information from, but now the text from the snippet will be highlighted in yellow, and the browser will automatically scroll down to the section in question. ❧
This is a feature that’s been implemented in most browsers for a while as fragmentions.
Hypothes.is has supported this sort of functionality for a few years now as well.
I’m curious how these different implementations differ?
Annotated on June 04, 2020 at 09:36AM
and started testing the functionality on HTML pages last year ❧
According to Kevin Marks, this is the GitHub Repo they’ve been using for creating this work: https://github.com/WICG/scroll-to-text-fragment#:~:text=the%20worst&text=a%20Google&text=serious%20breakage&text=behavior
Annotated on June 04, 2020 at 12:08PM
Blogging is great, but it sometimes feels like every blog is an island. To have a robust blog society requires connection, community, conversation. Part of the problem is we don’t have many great ways to connect blogs together into larger conversation structures.
Sure we have hyperlinks, and even some esoteric magic with the likes of webmentions. But I want big, simple, legible ways to link blog discussions together. I want: blogging megastructures!
In practice, building massive infrastructure is not only very difficult, but incredibly hard to maintain (and also thus generally expensive). Who exactly is going to maintain such structures?
I would argue that Webmentions aren’t esoteric, particularly since they’re a W3C recommendation with several dozens of server implementations including support for WordPress, Drupal, and half a dozen other CMSes.
Even if your particular website doesn’t support them yet, you can create an account on webmention.io to receive/save notifications as well as to send them manually.
–November 17, 2019 at 02:14PM
Cabinet: one author or several; posts curated into particular collections or series’, often with thematic groupings, perhaps a “start here” page for new readers, or other pointers to specific reading sequences
Chain: perhaps the simplest collaborative blogging form; a straightforward back and forth exchange of posts exploring a particular topicMesh: like a chain, but with multiple participants; still a legible structure e.g. alternating / round-robin style, but with more possibilities for multiplicity of perspectives and connections across postsFractal: multiple participants and multi-threaded conversation; more infinite game branching; a possibly ever-evolving and mutating conversation, so could probably use some kind of defined endpoint, maybe time-bound
In the time I’ve been using Webmentions, I’ve seen all of these sorts of structures using them. Of particular interest, I’ve seen some interesting experiments with Fragmentions that allow one to highlight and respond to even the smallest fragments of someone’s website.
–November 17, 2019 at 02:20PM
I tend to think of blogging as “thinking out loud”, a combination of personal essay, journaling, brainstorming and public memo.
Another example in the wild of someone using a version of “thinking out loud” or “thought spaces” to describe blogging.
–November 17, 2019 at 02:25PM
Baroque, brutalist, Borgesian — let’s build some blogging megastructures.
Take a peek at https://indieweb.xyz/ which is a quirky and interesting example of something along the lines of the blogging megastructure you suggest.
–November 17, 2019 at 02:27PM
I thought it was a pretty slick use of HTML to create some really simple and broadly useful UI.
Then earlier today I noticed that Jeremy Keith has recently switched to using this on his personal site in the comments section to provide toggles for his various webmention types including shares, likes, bookmarks, etc. But this is where I’m noticing a quirky UI issue that isn’t as web friendly as it could be. Jeremy and others (including myself own my own site) will often provide ID tags so that one can give permalinks to the individual comments using fragments of the form:
But here’s where the UI problem lies. The first fragment URL only resolves to the page instead of the specific bookmark hiding behind a <details> tag whereas the second fragment URL resolves to the page and automatically scrolls down to a comment by DominoPivot. It does this in both Chrome and FireFox and I would presume operates similarly in other browsers.
I suspect that most users would expect/prefer that the fragment URL should automatically expand the <details> tag and scroll down the page to that ID or fragment as well.
Perhaps Jamie, Jeremy, Tantek, Kevin or others may have some trickery to make this happen? Otherwise, do we need to start digging into specs and browsers to get them to better support this sort of fragment related functionality? Perhaps it’s this section of the HTML spec, the URL of which has such a fragment and therefor scrolls down properly if you click on it? (Meta pun intended.)
At present I’m relying on a PESOS solution to post on another site and syndicate a copy back to my own site. I’ve used Hypothesis, in large part for their fantastic UI and as well for the data transfer portion (via RSS and even API options), to own the highlights and marginalia I’ve made on the original on Ian’s site. Since he’s syndicated a copy of his original to Medium.com, I suppose I could syndicate copies of my data there as well, but I’m saving myself the additional manual pain for the moment.
Rather than send a dozen+ webmentions to Ian, I’ve bundling everything up in one post. He’ll receive it and it would default to display as a read post though I suspect he may switch it to a reply post for display on his own site. For his own use case, as inferred from his discussion about self-publishing and peer-review within the academy, it might be more useful for him to have received the dozen webmentions. I’m half tempted to have done all the annotations as stand alone posts (much the way they were done within Hypothesis as I read) and use some sort of custom microformats mark up for the highlights and annotations (something along the lines of
u-annotation-of). At present however, I’ve got some UI concerns about doing so.
One problem is that, on my site, I’d be adding 14 different individual posts, which are all related to one particular piece of external content. Some would be standard replies while others would be highlights and the remainder annotations. Unless there’s some particular reason to do so, compiling them into one post on my site seems to be the most logical thing to do from my perspective and that of my potential readers. I’ll note that I would distinguish annotations as being similar to comments/replies, but semantically they’re meant more for my sake than for the receiving site’s sake. It might be beneficial for the receiving site to accept and display them (preferably in-line) though I could see sites defaulting to considering them vanilla mentions as a fallback. Perhaps there’s a better way of marking everything up so that my site can bundle the related details into a single post, but still allow the receiving site to log the 14 different reactions and display them appropriately? One needs to not only think about how one’s own site looks, but potentially how others might like to receive the data to display it appropriately on their sites if they’d like as well. As an example, I hope Ian edits out my annotations of his typos if he chooses to display my read post as a comment.
One might take some clues from Hypothesis which has multiple views for their highlights and marginalia. They have a standalone view for each individual highlight/annotation with its own tag structure. They’ve also got views that target highlights/annotation in situ. While looking at an original document, one can easily scroll up and down through the entire page’s highlights and annotations. One piece of functionality I do wish they would make easier is to filter out a view of just my annotations on the particular page (and give it a URL), or provide an easier way to conglomerate just my annotations. To accomplish a bit of this I’ll typically create a custom tag for a particular page so that I can use Hypothesis’ search functionality to display them all on one page with a single URL. Sadly this isn’t perfect because it could be gamed from the outside–something which might be done in a classroom setting using open annotations rather than having a particular group for annotating. I’ll also note in passing that Hypothesis provides RSS and Atom feeds in a variety of ways so that one could quickly utilize services like IFTTT.com or Zapier to save all of their personal highlights and annotations to their website. I suspect I’ll get around to documenting this in the near future for those interested in the specifics.
Another reservation is that there currently isn’t yet a simple or standard way of marking up highlights or marginalia, much less displaying them specifically within the WordPress ecosystem. As I don’t believe Ian’s site is currently as fragmentions friendly as mine, I’m using links on the date/time stamp for each highlight/annotation which uses Hypothesis’ internal functionality to open a copy of the annotated page and automatically scroll down to the fragment as mentioned before. I could potentially see people choosing to either facepile highlights and/or marginalia, wanting to display them in-line within their text, or possibly display them as standalone comments in their comments section. I could also see people wanting to be able to choose between these options based on the particular portions or potentially senders. Some of my own notes are really set up as replies, but the CSS I’m using physically adds the word “Annotation”–I’ll have to remedy this in a future version.
The other benefit of these date/time stamped Hypothesis links is that I can mark them up with the microformat
u-syndication class for the future as well. Perhaps someone might implement backfeed of comments until and unless Hypothesis implements webmentions? For fun, some of my annotations on Hypothesis also have links back to my copy as well. In any case, there are links on both copies pointing at each other, so one can switch from one to the other.
I could imagine a world in which it would be nice if I could use a service like Hypothesis as a micropub client and compose my highlights/marginalia there and micropub it to my own site, which then in turn sends webmentions to the marked up site. This could be a potential godsend to researchers/academics using Hypothesis to aggregate their research into their own personal online (potentially open) notebooks. In addition to adding bookmark functionality, I could see some of these be killer features in the Omnibear browser extension, Quill, or similar micropub clients.
I could also see a use-case for adding highlight and annotation kinds to the Post Kinds plugin for accomplishing some of this. In particular it would be nice to have a quick and easy user interface for creating these types of content (especially via bookmarklet), though again this path also relies on doing individual posts instead of a single post or potentially a collection of posts. A side benefit would be in having individual tags for each highlight or marginal note, which is something Hypothesis provides. Of course let’s not forget the quote post kind already exists, though I’ll have to think through the implications of that versus a slightly different semantic version of the two, at least in the ways I would potentially use them. I’ll note that some blogs (Colin Walker and Eddie Hinkle come to mind) have a front page that display today’s posts (or the n-most recent); perhaps I could leverage this to create a collection post of highlights and marginalia (keyed off of the original URL) to make collection posts that fit into my various streams of content. I’m also aware of a series plugin that David Shanske is using which aggregates content like this, though I’m not quite sure this is the right solution for the problem.
Eventually with some additional manual experimentation and though in doing this, I’ll get around to adding some pieces and additional functionality to the site. I’m still also interested in adding in some of the receipt/display functionalities I’ve seen from Kartik Prabhu which are also related to some of this discussion.
Is anyone else contemplating this sort of use case? I’m curious what your thoughts are. What other UI examples exist in the space? How would you like these kinds of reactions to look on your site?
Be careful with this plugin on newer versions of WordPress >4.7 as the shortcode was throwing a fatal error on pages on which it appeared.
Kris Shaffer, the plugin’s author
Web annotation seems to promote more critical thinking and collaboration but it’s doubtful that it would ever fully replace commenting systems.
But why not mix annotations and comments together the way some in the IndieWeb have done?! A few people are using the new W3C recommendation spec for Webmention along with fragmentions to send a version of comments-marginalia-annotations to sites that accept them and have the ability to display them!
A good example of this is Kartik Prabhu’s website which does this somewhat like Medium does. One can write their response to a sub-section of his post on their own website, and using webmention (yes, there’s a WordPress plugin for that) send him the response. It then shows up on his site as a quote bubble next to the appropriate section which can then be opened and viewed by future readers.
For those interested, Kartik has open sourced some of the code to help accomplish this.
While annotation systems have the ability to overlay one’s site, there’s certainly room for serious abuse as a result. (See an example at https://indieweb.org/annotation#Criticism.) It would be nice if annotation systems were required to use something like webmentions (or even older trackback/pingbacks) to indicate that a site had been mentioned elsewhere, this way, even if the publisher wasn’t responsible for moderating the resulting comments, they could at least be aware of possible attacks on their work/site/page. #
— Hypothes.is (@hypothes_is) January 5, 2017
For Hypothes.is, I use the plugin referenced in the tweet above, but I’ve also been using Hypothes.is Aggregator by Kris Shaffer. I will note that the latter broke for me recently (possibly with the upgrade to WP 4.7, but I’ve filed a ticket and hopefully it’ll get sorted shortly). Shaffer’s plugin also makes using and posting with Hypothes.is’ Chrome extension more useful and interesting to me, since I can own copies of my highlights/annotations on my own website.
I’m hoping that sometime soon that Hypothes.is highlights and annotations on pages will also support sending webmentions so that when someone annotates one of my pages that I’ll receive a notification about it, almost as if it were a comment. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, Kartik Prabhu has a fantastic write up and some code on mixing marginalia and webmentions which I’m hoping to implement sometime soon myself.
If you need any help with any of the above, I (and surely others) are happy to help you via IndieWeb Chat.