Reply to Ian O’Bryne on annotations

Replied to a tweet by William Ian O'ByrneWilliam Ian O'Byrne (Twitter)

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.

 

 

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🔖 PressForward in the classroom

Bookmarked PressForward in the classroom (pressforward.org)
Do you want to work with students to publish class assignments or research? Instructors use PressForward in the classroom to consolidate and review student assignments, help students learn to survey their fields, and create opportunities for collaboration, communication, and research. The Lewis & Clark College Environmental Studies Program produces Environment Across Boundaries, a student-led publication that cultivates interdisciplinary perspectives on environmental issues. Participation gives students an opportunity to engage with their discipline through experiential, project based learning. They develop skills both in their field and with a suite of digital tools.

An interesting use case for PressForward: creating a “planet” website to aggregate and/or showcase work of students in an entire classroom who are all posting content to their own separate web spaces.

Sketch idea: create a standalone WordPress site for a course, install the PressForward plugin, input the RSS feeds for students’ websites to aggregate all their work collectively into one space. Various ideas include:

  • Use the feed for students and teacher to keep up with the entire classroom.
  • Publish an OPML file for students to easily subscribe to all feeds in their feed reader of choice.
  • Optionally publish the highlights of the best work or even all of it.
  • Teachers could use the feed to check that students are posting/keeping up with assignments for grading purposes.
  • Use the read/unread functionality to “mark” pieces as graded/ungraded or seen/unseen.
  • Use the internal commenting system to keep private notes on student’s work.
  • Create output feeds for specific tags and/or categories
  • Works with any student sites that produce feeds, not just WordPress, so students have choices of different CMSes.
  • Use the nomination functionality to quickly aggregate and disseminate online sources for classroom assignments or readings.

I had contemplated planet like aggregation at the recent WPCampus online conference. It’s interesting to see that PressForward has considered it as a use case as well though I’d love to hear about or see examples of this in the wild.

How else could this rich, multi-functional Swiss Army knife-like plugin be used in education?

Cartoon diagram with a funnel collecting content from sites like YouTube, WordPress, Drupal, Blogger, RSS being aggregated into a single computer-based website.
Diagram of PressForward functionality as a content hub or “planet” courtesy of PressForward.org
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Transitioning from Pocket to PressForward

I’ve recently been attempting to own all of my online bookmarks and online articles I’d like to read to replace services like Pocket and Instapaper. While I feel like I’m almost there using PressForward, there are still one or two rough edges.

One of them is creating a simple mobile workflow to take headlines from Twitter and get them into my reading queue. Previously I had used an IFTTT.com recipe to take things I “liked” in my Twitter stream to strip off URLs and put them into Pocket for reading later. In fact, very few of my thousands of likes in Twitter are traditional “likes” because I’m really using that functionality to indicate “I’d like to read the article linked to in this Tweet at a later date”. Somewhere in the past couple of months I’ve mused to at least one person on the PressForward team that it would be nice to have a simple indicator to send articles from Twitter to PressForward like this, but even if I were building it all by hand, this would be a bit further down the list of priorities. What to do in the erstwhile?

RSS has long been going out of fashion, particularly among the major social silos who want to keep you in their clutches, but it dawned on me to check to see if Pocket or Instapaper provide RSS feeds. Sure and gloriously enough, they do! In fact, Pocket has an unread feed, an archive feed, an all items feed (that includes both of the other two), and as a lovely additional touch, they’ve even got the ability to make feeds private. Instapaper has RSS feeds too, though they were a bit more hidden and took a right click/view source along with a manual completion of their base URL. The nice part is that one can take these RSS feeds and plug them straight into one’s PressForward RSS feed et voilà there they are on my own site! (From the viewpoint of PressForward, this is also very close to being able to nominate items directly from Twitter.) While this is more of a PESOS feed, the result is a no-brainer and provides a near real-time experience that’s more than adequate for my needs (at least until yet another silo goes down).

And as added bonuses, if I feel like using Pocket or Instapaper from time to time, I can do so without loss of data along the stream and the small handful of people with whom I interact on Pocket won’t notice the fact that I’ve disappeared.

For the millionth time, G-d bless RSS, a wonderful tool I use every single day.

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Read posts nearly perfected!

Hoorah, hooray!

In a project which I started just before IndieWebCamp LA in November, I’ve moved a big step closer to perfecting my “Read” posts!

Thanks in large part to WordPressPressForward, friends and help on the IndieWeb site too numerous to count, and a little bit of elbow grease, I can now receive and read RSS feeds in my own website UI (farewell Feedly), bookmark posts I want to read later (so long Pocket, Instagram, Delicious and Pinboard), mark them as read when done, archive them on my site (and hopefully on the Internet Archive as well) for future reference, highlight and annotate them (I still love you hypothes.is, but…), and even syndicate (POSSE) them automatically (with emoji) to silos like Facebook, Twitter (with Twitter Cards), Tumblr, Flipboard, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and Delicious among others.

Syndicated copies in the silos when clicked will ping my site for a second and then automatically redirect to the canonical URL for the original content to give the credit to the originating author/site. And best of all, I can still receive comments, likes, and other responses from the siloed copies via webmention to stay in the loop on the conversations they generate without leaving my site.

Here’s an example of a syndicated post to Twitter:

I’m now more resistant to a larger number of social media silos disappearing with my data. Huzzah!

What’s next?

 

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PressForward and Hypothes.is Work Great Together

I’ve just noticed that the metadata PressForward scrapes is enough to allow highlights and marginalia from Hypothes.is on the original web page to also appear in my copy on my own website! How awesome is that?

Example: http://boffosocko.com/2017/01/19/obamas-secret-to-surviving-the-white-house-years-books-the-new-york-times/

#ownallthethings

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PressForward as an IndieWeb WordPress-based RSS Feed Reader & Pocket/Instapaper Replacement

As many know, for the past 6 months or so, I’ve been slowly improving some of the IndieWeb tools and workflow I use to own what I’m reading both online and in physical print as well as status updates indicating those things. [1][2][3]

Since just before IndieWebCamp LA, I’ve been working on better ways to own the articles I’ve been reading and syndicate/share them out to other social platforms. The concept initially started out as a simple linkblog idea and has continually been growing, particularly with influence from my attendance of the Dodging the Memory Hole 2016: Saving Online News conference at UCLA in October. Around that same time, it was announced that Pinterest was purchasing Instapaper and they were shutting down some of Instapaper’s development and functionality. I’ve been primarily using Pocket for several years now and have desperately wanted to bring that functionality into my own site. I had also been looking at the self-hostable Wallabag alternative which is under heavy active development, but since most of my site is built on WordPress, I really preferred having a solution that integrated better into that as a workflow.

Enter PressForward

I’ve been looking closely at PressForward for the past week and change as a self-contained replacement for third party services like Pocket and Instapaper. I’ve been looking around for this type of self-hosted functionality for a while.

PressForward was originally intended for journalists and news organizations to aggregate new content, add it to their newsroom workflow, and then use it to publish new content. From what I can see it’s also got a nice following in academia as a tool for aggregating content for researchers focused on a particular area.

It only took a minute or two of looking at PressForward to realize that it had another off-label use case: as a spectacular replacement for read-later type apps!

In an IndieWeb fashion, this fantastic WordPress plugin allows me to easily own private bookmarks of things I’d like to read (PressForward calles these “Nominations” in keeping with its original use case). I can then later read them on my own website (with Mercury f.k.a Readability functionality built in), add commentary, and publish them as a read post. [Note: To my knowledge the creators of PressForward are unaware of the IndieWeb concept or philosophies.]

After some playing around for a bit and contemplating several variations, configurations, and options, I thought I’d share some thoughts about it for others considering using it in such an off-label manner. Hopefully these may also spur the developers to open up their initial concept to a broader audience as it seems very well designed and logically laid out.

Examples

The developers obviously know the value of dogfooding as at least two of them are using it in a Pocket-like fashion (as they many not have other direct use-cases).

Pros

PressForward includes a beautiful, full built-in RSS Feed Reader!

This feature alone is enough to recommend using it even without any other feature. I’ve tried Orbit Reader and WhisperFollow (among others) which are both interesting in their own rights but are somewhat limited and have relatively clunky interfaces. The best part of WhisperFollow’s premise is that it has webactions built in, but I suspect these could easily be added onto PressForward.

In fact, not just hours before I’d discovered PressFoward, I’d made this comment on the WordPress Reader Refresh post announcing the refresh of WordPress.com’s own (separate) reader:

Some nice visual changes in this iteration. Makes it one of the most visually pretty feed readers out there now while still maintaining a relatively light weight.

I still wish there were more functionality pieces built into it like the indie-reader Woodwind.xyz or even Feedly. While WordPress in some sense is more creator oriented than consumption oriented, I still think that not having a more closely integrated reader built into it is still a drawback to the overall WordPress platform.

Additionally,

  • It’s IndieWeb and POSSE friendly
  • It does automatic link forwarding in a flexible/responsible manner with canonical URLs
  • Allows for proper attributions for the original author and content source/news outlet
  • Keeps lots of metadata for analyzing reading behavior
  • Taggable and categorizable
  • Allows for comments/commenting
  • Could be used for creating a linkblog on steroids
  • Archives the original article on the day it was read.
  • Is searchable
  • Could be used for collaboration and curation
  • Has Mercury (formerly known as Readability) integrated for a cleaner reading interface
  • Has a pre-configured browser bookmarklet
  • Is open source and incredibly well documented
  • One can count clicks to ones’ own site as the referer while still pushing the reader to the original
  • Along with other plugins like JetPack’s Publicize or Social Networks Auto-Poster, one can automatically share their reads to Twitter, Facebook, or other social media silos. In this case, you own the link, but the original publisher also gets the traffic.

Cons

No clear path for nominating articles on mobile.

This can be a dealbreaker for some, so I’ve outlined a pretty quick and simple solution below.

No direct statistics

Statistics for gauging ones’ reading aren’t built in directly (yet?), but some scripts are available. [4][5][6]

No larger data aggregation

Services like Pocket are able to aggregate the data of thousands of users to recommend and reveal articles I might also like. Sadly this self-hosted concept makes it difficult (or impossible) do have this type of functionality. However, I usually have far too much good stuff to read anyway, so maybe this isn’t such a loss.

Suggested Improvements

Adding the ability to do webactions directly from the “Nominated” screen would be fantastic, particularly for the RSS reader portion.

Default to an unread view of the current “All Content” page. I find that I have to filter the view every time I visit the page to make it usable. I suspect this would be a better default for most newsrooms too.

It would be nice to have a pre-configured archive template page in a simple linkblog format that filters posts that were nominated/drafted/published via the Plugin. This will prevent users from needing to create one that’s compatible with their current theme. Something with a date read, Title linked to the original, Author, and Source attribution could be useful for many users.

A PressForward Nomination “Bookmarklet” for Mobile

One of the big issues I came up against immediately with PressForward is ease of use on mobile. A lot of the content I read is on mobile, so being able to bookmark (nominate) articles via mobile or apps like Nuzzel or Twitter is very important. I suspect this may also be the case for many of their current user base.

Earlier this year I came across a great little Android mobile app called URL Forwarder which can be used to share things with the ubiquitous mobile sharing icons. Essentially one can use it to share the URL of the mobile page one is on to a mobile Nomination form within PressForward.

I’d suspect that there’s also a similar app for iOS, but I haven’t checked. If not available, URL Forwarder is open source on Github and could potentially be ported. There’s also a similar Android app called Bookmarklet Free which could be used instead of URL Forwarder.

PressForward’s built in bookmarklet kindly has a pre-configured URL for creating nominations, so it’s a simple case of configuring it. These details follow below for those interested.

Configuring URL Forwarder for PressForward

  1. Open URL Forwarder
  2. Click the “+” icon to create a filter.
  3. Give the filter a name, “Nominate This” is a reasonable suggestion. (See photo below.)
  4. Use the following entry for the “Filter URL” replacing example.com with your site’s domain name: http://example.com/wp-content/plugins/pressforward/includes/nomthis/nominate-this.php?u=@url
  5. Leave the “Replaceable text” as “@url”
  6. Finish by clicking on the checkmark in the top right corner.

Simple right?

Nominating a post via mobile

With the configuration above set up, do the following:

  1. On the mobile page one wants to nominate, click the ubiquitous “share this” mobile icon (or share via a pull down menu, depending on your mobile browser or other app.)
  2. Choose to share through URL Forwarder
  3. Click on the “Nominate” option just created above.
  4. Change/modify any data within your website administrative interface and either nominate or post as a draft. (This part is the same as one would experience using the desktop bookmarklet.)

What’s next?

Given the data intensity of both the feed reader and what portends to be years of article data, I’m left with the question of hosting it within my primary site or putting it on a subdomain?

I desperately want to keep it on the main site, but perhaps hosting it on a subdomain, similar to how both Aram Zucker-Scharff and James Digioia do it may be better advised?

I’ve also run across an issue with the automatic redirect which needs some troubleshooting as well. Hopefully this will be cleared up quickly and we’ll be off to the races.

References

[1]
C. Aldrich, “A New Reading Post-type for Bookmarking and Reading Workflow,” BoffoSocko | Musings of a Modern Day Cyberneticist, 22-Aug-2016. [Online]. Available: http://boffosocko.com/2016/08/22/a-new-reading-post-type-for-bookmarking-and-reading-workflow/. [Accessed: 31-Dec-2016]
[2]
C. Aldrich, “Owning my Online Reading Status Updates,” BoffoSocko | Musings of a Modern Day Cyberneticist, 20-Nov-2016. [Online]. Available: http://boffosocko.com/2016/11/20/owning-my-online-reading-status-updates/. [Accessed: 31-Dec-2016]
[3]
C. Aldrich, “Notes, Highlights, and Marginalia from E-books to Online,” BoffoSocko | Musings of a Modern Day Cyberneticist, 24-Oct-2016. [Online]. Available: http://boffosocko.com/2016/10/24/notes-highlights-and-marginalia/. [Accessed: 31-Dec-2016]
[4]
A. Zucker-Scharff, “Personal Statistics from 3 Months of Internet Reading,” Medium, 05-Sep-2015. [Online]. Available: https://medium.com/@aramzs/3-month-internet-reading-stats-f41fa15d63f0#.dez80up7y. [Accessed: 31-Dec-2016]
[5]
A. Zucker-Scharff, “Test functions based on PF stats for collecting data,” Gist. [Online]. Available: https://gist.github.com/AramZS/d10fe64dc33fc9ffc2d8. [Accessed: 31-Dec-2016]
[6]
A. Zucker-Scharff, “PressForward/pf_stats,” GitHub. [Online]. Available: https://github.com/PressForward/pf_stats. [Accessed: 31-Dec-2016]
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I’ve discovered a spectacular tool for owning my own bookmarks and replacing Pocket and InstaPaper!

I’ve discovered a spectacular tool for owning my own bookmarks and replacing Pocket and InstaPaper!

  • It’s IndieWeb and POSSE friendly
  • Does link forwarding in a flexible/responsible manner
  • Allows for proper attributions
  • Keeps tons of metadata for analyzing reading behavior
  • Taggable
  • Allows for comments/commenting
  • Could be used easily as a linkblog
  • Archives the original article
  • Is searchable
  • Could be used for collaboration and curation
  • Has Readability integrated
  • Has a pre-configured browser bookmarklet
  • Is open source and well documented

Who could want more?! I want to experiment a bit with it, play with multiple configurations, and then document parts before rolling out–particularly as it wasn’t necessarily intended for this use case, but I’ll have some more details shortly.

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