- Mar 2021
This was eventually published at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14682753.2017.1362168 which also has additional links/references.
Because “open” may face a similar fate as befell “design” and “innovation,” terms that are alternatively inspiring and incomprehensible, both motivation and muddled jargon.
"Information" is another word that might fit into this group of over-saddled words.
In terms of defining the “open” in open web annotation, I tend to take a standards approach: the Hypothes.is tool is built upon, and our organization advocates for, open standards in web annotation.
This explanation also highlights an additional idea of open itself. I have heard many in the W3C space criticize the open standard of web annotation arrived at because of the ultimate monoculture of the space. Most of the participants of the process were all related to Hypothes.is in some way and the result was a single product that implemented the standard. To my knowledge no other companies, groups, or individual programmers have separately implemented the standard.
In this sense, while the "standard" is openly defined, it isn't as open as other standards which were mote slowly evolved and implemented gradually and more broadly by various programming languages and disparate groups.
Furthermore, web annotation also affords curation, creating a static but unstable record of this emergent and dynamic performance, accenting via hypertext particular ideas and moments from a malleable document.
One of the pieces missing from Hypothes.is is the curateable notebook which more easily allows one to create new content from one's annotations.
Search is certain there, but being able to move the pieces about and re-synthesize them into new emergent pieces is the second necessary step.
After we posted our initial exchange, and posited our formative thoughts about openness and politics, we could not have anticipated – much less controlled – who would join as reader or conversant, what they would contribute as an annotator, and how we would subsequently react.
Not to mention the fact that the experiment will continue on into the future past the official publication.
Platforms like Hypothes.is, which afford social and collaborative web annotation, demonstrate the ease with which authors and their audience can create a sociotechnical milieu to share thinking in progress, voice wonder, and rehearse informal dispositions in service of publication.
I personally identify with this since I'm porting my annotations and thoughts to a notebook as part of a process for active thinking, revision, writing, and eventual publication.
from SenorG’s comment that began with the caveat “Allow me to push back a bit here,” and which inspired four replies from three other annotators, to actualham’s observation
There's something discordant here in a scholarly article about having academic participants with names like SenorG and actualham. It's almost like a 70's farce starring truckers with bizarre CB handles. It's even more bizarre since I know some of the researchers behind these screennames.
Is the pseudonymous nature of some of these handles useful in hiding the identity of the participants and thereby forcing one to grapple only with their ideas and not the personas, histories and contexts behind them?
In this respect, we join Fitzpatrick (2011) in exploring “the extent to which the means of media production and distribution are undergoing a process of radical democratization in the Web 2.0 era, and a desire to test the limits of that democratization”
Something about this is reminiscent of WordPress' mission to democratize publishing. We can also compare it to Facebook whose (stated) mission is to connect people, while it's actual mission is to make money by seemingly radicalizing people to the extremes of our political spectrum.
This highlights the fact that while many may look at content moderation on platforms like Facebook as removing their voices or deplatforming them in the case of people like Donald J. Trump or Alex Jones as an anti-democratic move. In fact it is not. Because of Facebooks active move to accelerate extreme ideas by pushing them algorithmically, they are actively be un-democratic. Democratic behavior on Facebook would look like one voice, one account and reach only commensurate with that person's standing in real life. Instead, the algorithmic timeline gives far outsized influence and reach to some of the most extreme voices on the platform. This is patently un-democratic.
- web standards
- algorithmic feeds
- post artifact
- thought spaces
- citizen's band radio
- artificial intelligence
- commonplace books
- social media
- context collapse
- democratize publishing
- May 2019
implicit social contract
To what extent does the fact that Hypothesis annotations show up in our feeds (and are thus useful for us tracking our movement through texts) while mere highlights do not, determine usage patterns ?
text as an unfinished thing
In another sense, though, it makes the reader's process more visible so that the reader no longer needs to trespass into the author's territory. I've always been dissatisfied with the lit-crit position that the author must be completely decentered and her contribution minimized to make room for the reader. THIS seems to create a real space for the reader, and in so doing maybe it also allows the author to reclaim some of her space.
whatever client they choose just as they can use their browser of choice
Interesting -- what would it look like to have a shared annotation layer that could be accessed by a variety of tools?
- Jan 2018
annotation – whether social, technical, or political – are amplifications of traditional media practices
- Feb 2017
General point - I've been asked to join in this dialogue but it is already very rich and substantial so opting to add only a couple of comments rather than reinvent the wheel.
speak back to the authority of the web
Does this undersell your contribution? By which I mean, this looks like it's restating an opposition - between authority and 'the people' that takes us back to Gilmoor and others, Clay Shirky even, but what's happening here is disrupting such binaries? Or - and this may be another tangent you don't need - it's like Ranciere's stuff on the pedagogic relation - something like 'flipped' only inverts the relation, it doesn't disrupt it necessarily?
The tenor of web annotation as disruptive media is defined in no small measure by attendant tensions about the locus, meaning, and impact of such disruption.
Does this, then, also do something to disrupt the discourse of 'impact' as currently articulated / imposed by REF etc?
- Jan 2017
This term is new to me. It really catches my attention while at the same time making me wonder whether there is such a thing as a published text that is not performative. Is the act of publishing - even if as an annotation in the margins of a niche academic journal where it is unlikely to ever be discovered by another set of eyes - inherently performative, regardless of author intent and potentiality for audience?
people will be trained to engage more rigorously and respectfully with each other.
YES!!! This should be the goal in its entirety. I'm so glad to hear you say "promote a more civil discussion". Too often civil discussions are avoided and, many times in education, not even offered. How are we to sustain a successful democracy without civil discussions being present and offered regularly? How are we to train up successful, contributing citizens without offering civil discussion opportunities with regularity? It can't happen and won't happen, my hope is Hypothes.is can help achieve this!
a culture of civility and inquiry, but of course that’s no bulwark against trolls.
You're right, however, a culture of civility and inquiry can very easily overpower trolls if it's built correctly. A strong community can withstand many attacks if it's genuineness and civility remain strong!
Perhaps a way for a site owner to opt out of web annotation, though I worry such a feature would undo the ability to speak truth to power.
I share this worry with you! I believe this infringes on the realm of censorship. How can one post something on the web and opt out of web annotation? Seems to be a double standard...I want the public to hear this but I don't want to hear their thoughts. Certainly limits the ability to speak truth to power.
listening to authors, first of all, but also to other readers, and then sharing where we stand? I certainly like to think so.
Completely agree here! It is in listening to each other that we progress. Without listening to their readers, authors are simply writing what it is they want, think, need, and feel. Without listening to authors, the readers are necessarily even reading for understanding. It seems cyclical but important to note, I wonder what would happen if we listened to each other more often, especially in the case of web text truly bringing about the "net-working" RK described.
Web annotation clearly decenters authority or expertise in several ways
An important establishment in learning from text. How often we presume the author to be the authority. It's important to be open and willing to listen to the ideas of others if we are really seeking expertise. Growing from feedback and criticism is one of my greatest achievements.
It is my hope to see this in all learning environments, too often it is pre-established or determined without respect to learners' needs and interests.
only recently stumbled into the social practices of web annotation
RK is not the only one, I'm still feeling very new as well and learning each time I annotate. The newness is sometimes intimidating but I proceed nonetheless. How might it become more user friendly and inviting to grow the audience and participants?
People should be allowed to access annotations using whatever client they choose just as they can use their browser of choice to access the web
Great point here, when can I use Hypothes.is on my mobile device? I'm falling behind due to the need of being at a keyboarded laptop. How might be promote equitable access to such great tools?
- Dec 2016
very hard to quantify that datum
It may be a challenge, but it shouldn't be very hard. The hypothe.is R package is a good start in creating a data science workflow. This workflow would have a clear advantage in higher education... especially in academic disciplines that use R.
Comments sections have served this purpose in the past to an extent, but we might think of web annotation as an evolution of (rather than proxy for) page-bottom commentary.
This strikes me as a key factor in web annotation reaching the mainstream, especially in education. When an educator asks, "How is this significantly different from leaving comments at the end of an article?" it will be helpful to have a concise, comprehensible and convincing response. When I speak about this, I focus on the "contexting" that web annotation facilitates and the potentiality for authentic audience and dialogue. The problem with both of these points is that a critic can (rightly) respond that existing page-bottom commentary can already allow a degree of both of these.
However we may define open in the context of web annotation
Just as there is ambiguity around defining a word as simple as open this conversation hints at an emerging struggle with a shared meaning of annotation. As Remi points out, the traditional view of annotation is as a tool acting in service of reading comprehension. What we are talking about goes beyond that.
While Merriam Webster and other disseminators of meaning can add extra definitions to their dictionaries under the word 'annotation', I wonder if an easier path to meaning making might be through using different words. There's a risk that it only leads to complications and muddying the waters over semantics but is it worth considering? I describe it as uptexting (not sure if I thought of that on my own or borrowed from someone else). I've heard University of Texas' Carl Blyth describe this as Social Reading and am drawn to this term because it captures the community aspect and might be less confusing because it doesn't seek to reappropriate an existing, commonly held definition.
allowed students to attach a preset (though variable) set of terms to specific selections of text. It touts itself as a critical reading tool but in fact delimits the variability of a reader’s response to a text, not to mention a teacher’s approach to textual analysis.
Allow me to push back a bit here. While the "canned responses" could, in some environments, build fences around student creativity and expression, it does not have to. From my limited play in the Ponder sandbox, I noticed that students could click on the canned responses OR offer their own annotation just like with Hypothes.is (though I am not sure if the annotation is limited to text). Also, I perceive the canned responses as allowing for scaffolding for younger readers and second language learners.
The same technology that can spew hate speech on an individual’s blog post can also be used by community organizers to publicly critique proposed legislation.
Yes, this is part of the paradoxical way that open works, as Martin Weller has argued. This is the crux of all of the challenge for me right now.
suggest edit: change to "hopeful."
Much of what makes Hypothes.is special – its non-profitness, its open sourceness, its advocating for open standards-ness – is specifically structured to counteract the politics of the siloed version of the web we have now, which is not conducive or structured for enhancing civic engagement. The fundamentally open structure of the web allows information to flow freely. An open structure for web annotation will allow critique and conversation to similarly flow freely. There I go again on standards, but it’s an important difference between Twitter and Hypothes.is (or any open annotation client): your annotations are yours in a way that your Tweets simply are not.
YES, I agree with this.
Honestly, I am flummoxed about how to respond to the fake news/propaganda thing. Notions of "truth" and "credibility" and "verifiability" are so complicated, and I don't want to be forced by the terms of a fucked up debate to rally around reductive ideas that some things are true and some are false. And then again, I don't want to advocate for an anything-goes approach that makes room for climate- and holocaust-deniers. I am an active user of Snopes. But how do we allow for the richness and complexity of diverse perspectives and non-dominant narratives, while resisting the emerging leftist role of "truth police?" I think H might allow us to do the kind of discursive work-- dialogic work-- that helps here. I don't like to think about that work as fact-checking as much as the critical exposure of epistemologies. We are all biased. Anyone else uncomfortable with the idea that if we just science enough (or whatever) we can get to some kind of pure, irrefutable truth? How could that end up hurting the causes we are trying to advance?
the internet as the democratization of information and the internet as yet another, perhaps even more insidious, manifestation of the inextricable relationship between knowledge and power.
Interesting phrase. Thinking about how all spaces are social (I think?) and all are built (I think?), and so what exactly makes the sociality or structure of a space "open"? Could it have to do not just with inclusivity, but also with the decentering effect that resists boundaries and borders-- and maybe therefore meaning? Invoking Homi Bhabha here in thinking about how margins define centers (not vice versa) and wondering if part of what feels politically important about web annotation is the way that it decenters the text itself, makes it incomplete, multi-authored, dynamic. And that will both challenge master-narratives and maybe also challenge meaning itself, which can be alienating to participants and a challenge to community building. Sorry-- I used to teach Intro Lit Crit. :)
I know I am basically just another lit crit perspective here, but honestly that background-- particularly as a poststructuralist and probably as a postmodernist--inflects so much of my thinking about what the web is and can be. I think moving from English to Interdisciplinary Studies has also made me value the perspective that sees all knowledge as always incomplete; I love that my new field has a core value of noting that there is always another perspective, even if it's not visible or known yet. So when I work with students on the web-- especially in "intro" courses that are supposed to indoctrinate them to the core principles and theories of Interdisciplinary Studies-- I like to present the web as a space that allows and supports dynamism rather than stasis (process over product). But this is so out of line with so much about how teachers think about "public" writing and projects; we want them to be "portfolio" worthy, tidy, complete. When student work is flawed, I think it's a reminder to us about how we can think of all scholarly work. I love that H lets us focus on critique without a requirement that we devalue the work-- in fact, quite the opposite (we critique what has value and potential and impact and utility...). Just thinking out loud, but I think this aspect of "open-endedness" is really the core (ha ha-- irony) of so many of my areas of interest right now.
Thinking about this term, and about preceding it with "everyday." Wondering how one becomes this, whether it can ever be mundane without erasing the privilege inherent in the status.
I came to understand open as an invitation for reciprocal networking, the ongoing negotiation of power, and as ambiguity.
So much of this resonates after reading Martin Weller's wonderful little post today (and the awesome PPT embedded therein): http://blog.edtechie.net/openness/the-paradoxes-of-open-scholarship/
For example, we might simply ask that each participant refrain from using hashtags as a final thought because that is a form of sarcasm or punchline that can be misconstrued or shut down honest debate or agreeable disagreement.
We could ask respondents to reply to any comment that they read twice because of tone to use "ouch" as a tag or a textual response. The offending respondent could respond with "oops" in order to preserve good will in an exchange of ideas.
Finally, the first part of a flash mob might occur here, in the page notes, where norms could be quickly negotiated and agreed upon with a form of protocol.
But what will those conversations look like to random people stumbling upon them?
What do annotations in an edited volume of Shakespeare communicate to a struggling 9th grade reader? It strikes me that reader-text interactions always leave meaning negotiable, messy and interaction dependent.
Does this question attempt to rubric-ize the notes we'd put in margins?
Why mention this research project alongside your Ponder example? Because irrespective of their differences, both efforts constrain notions of open by positioning annotation as an individual task. Annotation is something a sole reader might do when reacting to a given text and in the service of a broader (and presumably more important) objective.
In that way, using a digital, sharable sticky note matters. Anyone can make a mess with sticky notes and a more skilled respondent can support another's meaning making with sticky notes.
What is annotation as a genre? I think what he observed in the annotations was a wide range of reader responses, some highly engaging, others less clearly so.
This question seems like it should be more specific to disciplines. What is annotation in the legal world? How about for scientists? For beginning readers?
If I'm annotating a text to make meaning, that's different than if I'm a prof annotating a historical text to provide relevant background. The two notes have only their "noteness" in common, I'd say.
This is neat, though I personally don’t think it pushes students as critical readers as far as other uses of social annotation.
Neatness matters for teachers who have to keep track of the artifacts students create as writers. If my students are doing great work but I can't see it, I'm disorganized as a teacher. In the online instructional space it is even more important that teachers can see a footprint. If a tool leaves it to chance whether a student's work will be found by the teacher or a stranger, it is a messy tool, from a teacher's perspective.
Our flexibility goes against the templated idea of educational technology tools that dominate the scene. It’s very hard to quantify that datum generated from such a tool and thus very hard to sell it.
I'd be interested to know how you test this theory, or hypothesis. What does user feedback look like? How is it analyzed?
How did my experience, alongside a cohort of graduate learners, alter my definition of open?
Great question because it shows how our language evolves as we learn in much the same way we do.
closed educational resources
Teachers ask for textbooks all the time and insist that student's online work stay inside a walled garden LMS. Profs, too. Empathic listening reveals that they are not novices but professionals with legitimate concerns.
with the antithesis to be avoided or judged as possibly inferior
Agreed that tone matters. Open standards are real things but the word open has been evolving since it was first uttered and it predates Linux and the Apache server.
When you talk about open, I feel like what you mean is “public” or even “collaborative.”
This is a conversation I heard as I worked with Karen Fasimpaur on various projects beginning with P2PU. She used to hold to a rigid conception of the word open that prevails in web design communities, before accepting more nuanced definitions of the word as she worked more with learners in open spaces.
as we invite colleagues to join our conversation and further open the growing discourse to the public.
The analytics of this article as inquiry are to some degree plain to interested readers. If a reader wants to test out the hypothesis that the conversation will be "interrupted," all they have to do is check the margins. I'm curious about the choice of the word interrupted, tho. Won't bookworms in these margins build on the conversation, the way kids in a sandbox build with what they find? Do annotations interrupt or do they make plain the reader-text interactions?
We have each chosen specific keyword
This reminds me of Paul Allison's LRNG playlist in which youth have to choose keywords associated with their own inquiry questions.
One challenge is whether – or how – this conversation becomes generative of traditional scholarship, such as a more linear, peer-reviewed article.
There is, truly, so much potential in these tools and approaches toward asynchronous, distributed reading and writing. One question I have, already, is how such distributed forms of production-consumption further dissolve notions of textuality and authorship so entrenched within traditional notions and practices of scholarship and empirical research. The flattened hierarchies, especially, threaten the institutionalized power structures which have tightly controlled the design, review, and dissemination of scholarship and research.
Under what conditions does web annotation create the social and technical structures to enhance such civil, and trustworthy, online discourse?
Wow what a question. I can't wait to see what other people have to say. It seems like it would be easy to come up with ways that are not civil, or trustworthy, online discourse - but to frame this as which conditions are created is far more powerful.
As I mentioned in an earlier annotation, I think much of this has to do with shifting personal epistemology through the process of discourse with "authorities" and authors, the societal weighting of evidence and supportive information, and the interaction among participants and text at various levels. But there is a whole lot there that can go wrong. I love all of the occasions I've had to interact with others via hypothes.is thus far, but it does strike me that they have been primarily among peers with similar perspectives, epistemology, ideals, and academic background as myself. And perhaps that is a good place to start- modeling constructive and supportive behaviors in certain communities of practice?
Edit to add: I think the social expectation that comes with using hypothes.is the way I have (through annotation flash mobs and annotatathons) is important. Having annotated this article as separate from a flash mob type event I find myself constantly checking back for new annotations, commentary, and responses. Web annotation for me has become inherently a cooperative and collaborative practice.
what of the social value
something we should always ask ourselves, and ask ourselves repeatedly
power a crowd-sourced system of fact- and bias-checking
in the same line of thought as with choral explanations?
that we’re not just accessing knowledge on the internet, but creating it ourselves. But it’s not at all the way the web has evolved in terms of the everyday ability to effectively question authority, both technically and politically.
I think there are particular personal epistemological assumptions tied up in this, that impact not only how we wish web annotation to be used, but how it functionally can and will primarily be used. If you approach knowledge as something coming from an authority, it is very hard to fathom being able to create it yourself, or talk back to it, even if those platforms exist. Conversely, if you think any opinion is valid, because knowledge is completely subjected as individual "truths" then I think you end up with what we see in a majority of places on the internet that allow discourse... I wonder if, and suspect that, hypothes.is could a powerful tool in shifting personal epistemology - especially where the text creators or "authorities" engage with annotators and the comments they pose...
...forgive me, I bring everything back to personal epistemologies
And with that, perhaps we should open this dialogue up for other people to join us.
As always, so glad you did.
I believe that a reader’s decision to participate in public web annotation carries an implicit social contract; that my contributions are open to your response, that my ideas are open your dissent, and that my assertions are open to your rebuttal
What sort of digital literacy does this require?
authoritative voice of a scholar for themselves
oh right, authoritative scholarly voice... guess I should leave out all those "I think"s... ;)
now I am just adding noise; this can be deleted.
orchestrate shared authorship
Are there standards for citing web annotations? How do we acknowledge and credit this shared authorship?
to literally net-work
distributing the source and concern of conversation amongst learners and away from my agenda
I think this is such a powerful motivation for using web annotation as a component of peer-review and academic conversations.
I love the idea of the public playground, and I think that concept along with the affordances of hypothes.is, say something about the relative safety net of open annotation. Like a public playground, it is not without risk to those participating; however, a degree of anonymity is still offered. You can disconnect your hypothes.is user information from your identity. This can, of course, be both a good and bad thing in generating commentary, but is an important feature of this particular "openness"
I also just love the connection to "play"
in the end be too ethereal or too noisy, testing our ability to subsequently and usefully capture and represent a layered, versioned textual experience as more conventional academic prose
Could we perhaps use tags or groups to functionally sort through the layers of "noise" ? Perhaps things like: content critique, meta, grammatical nuances, etc?
Hypothes.is as bettering Twitter
There’s also a growing culture of people on Twitter hacking the microblogging platform as an annotation tool. They call them Screenshorts, Tweets that use screenshots of highlighted text to ground commentary. To me it’s just web annotation 1.0. But they’re just trying to be good English students, right?
From a pedagogical and rhetorical perspective, at least, an annotated Trump speech is more effective than a random comment out there in the ether of the net. Similarly, a close read of the Clinton emails I believe would reveal there’s not much of a story there. But as a culture, we are not engaging with politics in that way, and we would be better off if we did.
Interrupted seems like such a harsh word here. Perhaps punctuated fits better? You don't have to interrupt reading the conversation with the annotations, but you can. Of course in a journal of disruptive media, maybe interruption is exactly the disruption desired...
(much less a vendor!)
- institutional critique
- academic publishing and scholarship
- sticky notes aren't a genre
- purpose and audience