Reminds me that I need to circle back to this discussion:
— Dan Whaley (@dwhly) July 24, 2018
Apparently there were a bunch of us thinking and writing about feed readers and the open web a year ago last June. Several week’s prior to Richard’s article, I’d written a piece for Richard’s now defunct AltPlatform entitled Feed reader revolution (now archived on my site), which laid out some pieces similar to Paul’s take here, though it tied in some more of what was then the state of the art in IndieWeb tech.
Around that time I began tinkering with other feed readers including Inoreader, which I’ve been using for it’s ability to auto-update my RSS feeds using OPML subscriptions from the OPML files I maintain on my own website. Currently I’m more interested in what the Microsub specification is starting to surface in the feed reader space.
I’m not sure if he’s played around with it since, but, like Paul, I was using some of the Press This bookmarklet functionality in conjunction with David Shanske’s Post Kinds plugin for WordPress to make posting snippets of things to my website easier.
Feedly has a Pro (aka paid) functionality to allow one to share content using custom URLs.
While one can use the Share to WordPress URL functionality, I’d recommend the Custom Sharing feature. Using the Post Kinds plugin, one can use the following example URL to quickly share things from their Feedly account to their personal website:
One should change the URL to reflect their own site, and one can also change the word “bookmark” to the appropriate desired kind including “like”, “favorite”, “read”, or any of the others they may have enabled within the Post Kinds plugin.
I personally don’t use this method as it only allows one custom sharing URL (and thus allows only one post kind), and instead (again) prefer Inoreader which allows one to configure custom sharing similarly to Feedly, but doesn’t limit the number of kinds and the feature is available in their free tier as well.
In addition to some of what I’ve written about the Post Kinds plugin before, I’ve also detailed how to dovetail it with sharing from my Android phone quickly in the past.
Also like Paul, I was greatly interested in quickly creating highlights and annotations on web content and posting them to my own website. Here I’m using a modified version of the Post Kinds plugin to accomplish this having created highlight posts and annotation posts for my site. Next I’m utilizing the ability to prepend
http://via.hypothes.is to URLs on my mobile phone to call up the ability to use my Hypothesis account to easily and quickly create highlights and annotations. I then use some details from the outline linked below to capture that data via RSS using IFTTT.com.
Naturally, the process could be streamlined a lot from a UI perspective, but I think it provides some fairly nice results without a huge amount of work.
I will mention that I’ve seen bugs in trying to annotate easily on Chrome’s mobile application, but haven’t had any issues in using Firefox’s mobile browser.
We've had some challenges using Hypothesis on PDFs in Google Classroom and Google Drive. This video shows exactly how to get around this problem and quickly get back to your web annotations.
In order to make it easier to track activity in Hypothes.is, I created a program called Hypothes.is Collector. The idea is that you can type in user name, a URL, a tag, or a group ID and click the button to see all of the related annotations. The program will create a new sheet with an archive of up to 200 annotations based on the search terms. It will then create a third sheet that will count how many of these annotations were made on each URL in the set by each user.
This seems like it could be an interesting tool for annotations in a classroom setting and is related to some of the broader Hypothes.is API tools.
Among the things that endeared him to his public was his comic use of language in his films; his characters (all of which were really variations of the main "Cantinflas" persona but cast in different social roles and circumstances) would strike up a normal conversation and then complicate it to the point where no one understood what they were talking about. The Cantinflas character was particularly adept at obfuscating the conversation when he owed somebody money, was courting an attractive young woman, or was trying to talk his way out of trouble with authorities, whom he managed to humiliate without their even being able to tell. This manner of talking became known as Cantinflear, and it became common parlance for Spanish speakers to say "¡estás cantinfleando!" (loosely translated as you're pulling a "Cantinflas!" or you're "Cantinflassing!") whenever someone became hard to understand in conversation.
Similar to doubletalk, technobabble, and other varieties of speech.
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...
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
Some of my favorite and often used edtech tools:
Hypothesis – a service that allows me to quickly highlight and annotate content on almost any web page or .pdf file
IFTTT.com – a service which I use in combination with other services, most often to get data from those sites back to my own. For example:
Huffduffer.com – a service I with audio related content I find online. I use its bookmarklet to save audio from web pages. Huffduffer then creates a custom RSS feed that I can subscribe to in any podcatcher for catching up on podcasts while I’m on the go.
Post Kinds Plugin for WordPress – since many in the class are also using it, I’ll mention that I love using its bookmarklet functionality to quickly bookmark, favorite, or reply to other posts on the web.
URL Forwarder – This is an Android-based app that I’ve configured to dovetail with the Post Kinds Plugin and my website for posting to my site more quickly via mobile.
Jon Udell’s media clipper – I use this audio/video tool for finding and tagging the start and stop points of media so that I can highlight specific portions for others
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:
Create interactive video stories on Timelinely. Timelinely empowers people to go beyond just video.
Highlight interesting parts of a video on a timeline with interactive comments, pictures, links, maps, other videos, and more.
This tool reminds me of a somewhat more commercialized version of Jon Udell’s Clipping tools for HTML5 audio, HTML5 video, and YouTube. I wonder if this is the sort of UI that Hypothes.is might borrow? I can definitely see it being useful functionality in the classroom.
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.