A partnership to bring open annotation to eBooks

Today we are announcing a partnership to bring open, collaborative, cross-platform annotation to eBooks. Together with NYU Libraries, NYU Press, Evident Point, the Readium Foundation and the EPUBjs project, Hypothesis will be working to bring annotation to EPUB, the standard format for digital books.

Digital books represent an enormous class of content which at present cannot be collaboratively annotated with others. Combined with the recent work that the W3C has done to standardize annotation, this represents an essential next step in bringing a high quality open annotation implementation to books everywhere.

Annotation is now a web standard

Many have tried over the years to bring us web annotations. The lack of standards has been one of the key things holding these efforts back– a need we highlighted in the first of our 12 original principles back in 2013 and have been working towards ever since.

Yesterday, on February 23, things took a giant leap forward when the W3C, the standards body for the Web, standardized annotation.

Twenty four years after Marc Andreessen first built collaborative annotation into Mosaic and tested it on a few “guinea pigs” before turning it off, annotations have finally become first-class citizens of the web.

Opening Meta

Yesterday, the scholarly communication + AI startup Meta signed an agreement to be acquired by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). Aside from the initial news a few weeks ago and Joe Esposito’s article in the Scholarly Kitchen, I’ve seen few people remark on it.

But it’s a big deal.

A serious piece of scholarly infrastructure is being made open, free and effectively non-profit. Meta has built a cutting edge system to mine scholarly papers new and old, and allow the data to be employed in diverse ways–predicting discoveries before they’re made, projecting the future impact of papers just hours old, and unlocking the potential for innumerable applications applying computation at scale across scientific literature. In what must have taken extraordinary patience, persistence and a lot of finesse, they managed to secure access to some of the most strategic closed content in the scholarly world.

eLife Partners with Hypothesis to Advance Open Scholarly Annotation

We’re thrilled to announce our first customer today, eLife — an open access life sciences journal.  The press release announcing our partnership is attached below.   eLife partners with Hypothes.is to advance open scholarly annotation Wednesday, September 14, 2016 eLife, a non-profit initiative inspired by research funders and led by scientists, is working with Hypothes.is to bring … Continued

Preventing abuse

UPDATE (2016-05-24) “Involving page owners in annotation”. Recent events (here, here, and here) have prompted us to rethink how the technology we are building can be used not only to discuss and enlighten, but also to harass and abuse. Here’s the heart of the matter: most web annotation systems, ours included, don’t currently provide adequate … Continued

A Coalition of over 40 60 Scholarly Publishers

Today we’re announcing a coalition of over 40 scholarly publishers, platforms, libraries and technology partners that share the goal of building an open conversation layer over all knowledge. Over the next several years this coalition will be working together to define, design and implement a common framework for scholarly collaboration from peer-review through post-publication discussion, … Continued

Annotations at the W3C

For a while now, a dedicated group of individuals has been working towards a web annotation standard– the idea being that annotation is something that will be fundamental to the future of web and should be interoperable, and eventually incorporated into browsers. This effort began first as two separate groups, Annotation Ontology and Open Annotation … Continued


As of today, we’re making our general purpose annotator available from our homepage. If you use the Chrome browser, you can download and install it as an extension. An equivalent extension for Firefox is coming shortly. The annotator allows you to bring note-taking and conversation capabilities to any page on the web. The application has … Continued

Helmsley Trust Supports Open Annotation in Biomedical Research

The Hypothes.is Project together with partners at the Neuroscience Information Framework (NIF) and ORCID has been awarded a 3-year, $2.1M grant by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to bring annotation to biomedicine. Web annotations, a new standard for digital notes on top of an existing online resource, are proving transformative in … Continued

Older browser support in Annotator

Bill Hunt is a developer with the OpenGov Foundation, his article below is cross-posted from there. The Annotator Problem: New Tech in Older Web Browsers A few months ago, The OpenGov Foundation was awarded a grant from Hypothes.is’ Open Annotation Fund to add cross-browser support for Annotator, the tool powering inline annotation on government policy … Continued