Arguably scholarship is entirely dependent on annotation; scholarship is an exercise in annotation. Research is not just “substantiated by the presumed authority of an annotation,” by which I assume you mean peer review. Research depends on the ability to cite other research, and a citation is an annotation to that other work. Oral traditions are excluded at least in part because there’s no artifact to annotate.
See also the short essay by Kevin Kelly, Triumph of the Default: https://kk.org/thetechnium/triumph-of-the/
This is what I was talking about above, that in order for annotations to make sense, the reader has to understand the context. I agree that it is impossible to understand these examples of annotation as isolated from the social context. The problem is, it is actually possible to read them in isolation. Imagine Bell’s and O’Hare’s art being viewed by someone unfamiliar with US politics, for example, or by a viewer 500 years in the future. Reading would happen but without understanding. Bell’s & O’Hare’s work explicitly annotate real texts. But the text here is more than a tweet or a page of the NYT; the “text” is the social context.
Seems to me that this harks back to the comment about Twitter, that it’s marginalia on everything in the world. The thing is though, in order for these annotations to make sense, the reader / viewer has to understand the context. The fact of Wei Jingsheng’s work being on the Democracy Wall provides the context. Existing in the modern US provides the context for Bell’s work. But maybe not for a foreign tourist in NYC? Digital annotation can provide a link to the context, as in Twitter. What mechanisms do physical annotations use to provide context to the reader?
And contest knowledge. Just going to keep putting that out there ;)
Yes. How do citation practices work with annotation and how do we not take up ideas as our own when they are bred through conversation on our original ideas.
Yes! I was thinking this when you mentioned the 17 Climate scientists earlier—that was a culminated annotation process, and I wonder how we grapple with whose voice counts or how various voices count when texts become multi-vocal.
I wish there was a little more unpacking of the idea of social movements in relation to power here. I think you’re getting at this, the power of annotation with hashtags to amplify but it’s not as clear or connected to power as it could be
This is so critical — the (externalized) dialogic nature of annotation. Not only am I interacting with and responding to text internally, I am engaging in the dialogue externally
I wonder how better, big data being overlaid on virtual reality may be helpful to the currently marginalized in the future? Would it be useful to have shared data about businesses and practices that tend to marginalize people further? I recall an African-American comedian recently talking about the Confederate Flag in a (Netflix?) comedy special. They indicated that the flag actually had some worthwhile uses and reminisced driving on rural highways at night looking for a place to stay. When they saw that flag flying over a motel, they knew better to keep driving and stay at another hotel further down the road. In this case, the flag over the hotel not-so-subtly annotated the establishment itself.
I perceive a lot of social slights and institutionalized racism as being of a marginal sort which are designed to be bothersome to some while going wholly unnoticed by others. What if it were possible to aggregate the data on a broader basis to bring these sorts of marginal harms to the forefront for society to see them? As an example, consider big companies doing marginal harms to a community's environment over time, but going generally unnoticed until the company has long since divested and/or disappeared. It's hard to sue them for damages decades later, but if one could aggregate the bigger harms upfront and show those annotated/aggregated data up front, then they could be stopped before they got started.
As a more concrete example, the Trump Management Corporation was hit with a consent decree in the early 1970's for prejudicial practices against people of color including evidence that was subpoenaed showing that applications for people of color were annotated with a big "C" on them. Now consider if all individuals who had made those applications had shared some of their basic data into a pool that could have been accessed and analyzed by future applicants, then perhaps the Trumps would have been caught far earlier. Individuals couldn't easily prove discrimination because of the marginal nature of the discrimination, but data in aggregate could have potentially saved the bigger group.
Here I'm reminded of Tom Standage's book Writing on the Wall: Social Media: The First 2,000 Years as potentially having some interesting examples that include the ideas of social media as an annotation layer on life.
What about the potential for digital redlining, which has the potential to further marginalize fragile ecosystems? example: https://www.richmiser.com/google-maps-vs-waze-avoiding-sketchy-neighborhoods/
social media: live annotations on life itself
The more you reference her work, the more I think you should add an explicit example of it within the text.
I've added a few examples of abuse and conversation here in the past: https://indieweb.org/annotation#Annotation_Sites_Enable_Abuse
Perhaps in the future with VR or AR technologies, I might be able to add an annotation layer to an audience viewing a performer singing and digitally write the word "slave" on their face?
Ooh, Chris’s point is fascinating. My response to this question though is really different — in some cases, to whom are we asking permission? Especially as layers of annotation are formed. Even in this document, as I’m adding comments to annotations, am I invited to do so by the public nature of annotation, by you, Remi & Antero? If I’m given permission by one entity (NYT), am I also to seek permission from the author of the article? So this adds to complexity.
How would this have worked in pre-literate societies? Examples?
"the whole social body" also reminds me of the idea of the "Great Chain of Being" to consider how differences in annotation may change and evolve in societies over long periods of time. I can't help but consider Richard Dawkins' original conceptualization of the "meme" and how they move through societies with or without literacy skills.
Also the idea in the Western canon of The Great Conversation.
These sorts of annotations can also help to force people who might not otherwise understand the subtlety of a piece to "read between the lines". I have to wonder about annotations as a means of apophasis as well...
Not having anywhere else to attach it yet, I also wonder about verbal annotations or asides in actual speech? Perhaps president George H.W. Bush's famous quote "Read my lips: no new taxes" could be considered an example of this sort of verbal annotation or highlighting?
You're referencing something directly here which you didn't present directly earlier. Perhaps it's worth adding it as a specific example of her work in the section above? I got enough context with the tangential mention of her work above, but think it would be beneficial to add a specific example of it in your text.
What about examples of future sorts of annotations/redactions like these with emerging technologies? Stories about deepfakes (like Obama calling Trump a "dipshit" or the Youtube Channel Bad Lip Reading redubbing the words of Senator Ted Cruz) are becoming more prevalent and these are versions of this sort of redaction taken to greater lengths. At present, these examples are obviously fake and facetious, but in short order they will be indistinguishable and more commonplace.
While I'm reading this, I can't help but wishing that Hypothes.is would add a redaction functionality to their product. They could potentially effect it by using the highlighter functionality, but changing the CSS to have the color shown be the same as that of the (body) text instead of being yellow.
Do her words have even more power in doing this because she's using Weinstein's actual words against him?
I appreciate that you've explicitly left this etymology out until now, and this chapter is a perfect place to reveal it.
But if we're going to consider music as art, isn't a lot of the value and power of art in the "eye of the beholder"? To some extent art's value is in the fact that it can have multiple interpretations. From this perspective, once it's been released, Lamar's music isn't "his" anymore, it becomes part of a broader public that will hear and interpret it as they want to. So while Lamar may go back and annotate what he may have meant at the time as an "expert", doesn't some of his art thereby lose some power in that he is tacitly stating that he apparently didn't communicate his original intent well?
By comparison and for contrast one could take the recent story of Donald Trump's speech (very obviously written by someone else) about the recent mass shootings and compare them with the polar opposite message he spews on an almost daily basis from his Twitter account. See: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/teleprompter-trump-meets-twitter-trump-as-the-president-responds-to-mass-slayings/2019/08/05/cdd8ea78-b799-11e9-b3b4-2bb69e8c4e39_story.html
While I like the sentiment here, a lot of the power of the message comes from not only the medium, but the distribution which it receives. Many daily examples of "typical" annotation done by common people are done in a way that incredibly few will ultimately see the message. The fact that the annotations of the emperor were republished and distributed was what, in great part, gave them so much weight and value. Similarly here with the example of the King's blog or Alexandra Bell's work which was displayed in public. I hope there is more discussion about the idea of distribution in what follows.
Not just purple ink, but most likely Tyrian purple which was a signifier of royalty and power owing to the incredible cost to manufacture the dye. The annotation itself may have shown it's own power, but the color it was done in added even more subtle social power to those who would have read it.
I like the photo you’ve provided of her work in situ, and you’ve given lots of references of her work and some interviews, but I wonder if it may be more helpful/illustrative if you provided a specific example here of her work as well.
Express, but also to meet power with powerful counterpoint. The critical nature of response in annotation here feels a little underemphasized.
Express and reinforce: Not just anyone could author an annotatio.
Yes. This is a key point. Annotation is a tool. Like many literacy-based tools, it can be used for oppression or liberation.
I love this. It is critical literacy in real world contexts
You mentioned something earlier about teacher annotation and power but didn’t come back to it - perhaps you plan to come back to it in the next chapter? For me, one of the key missing things in this chapter is that all the examples you use are by particular people doing annotation. Particular authorities or artists or such. But not lay people, not really.
There needs to be some unpacking of the power issues in everyday annotation. Of school books you borrow from school or from library which you cannot annotate, of teachers annotating student work, and of students annotating when given permission or instruction to do so. Also, what of students scribbling or doodling on texts assigned in school - rebellion, resistance, something else?
To this day, I remember borrowing books from my PhD supervisor and being fascinated with what he chose to highlight in his own texts. It distracted me but also interested me a lot and I think I learn about annotation from the way he did it. Does anyone ever really teach others how to annotate for the purpose of learning? I guess you will tackle this next!
It’s funny that Maha raises this question. (Well, not really ha-ha funny.) My middle school-age daughter has a summer reading for school, and the kids were told by the teachers to annotate it for discussion. But she’s complained that they were never taught how to do annotation, & had no idea how to approach it. To that end, I second Troy’s point above that recommendations for teachers would be valuable. Perhaps as an appendix?
I’m not sure this chapter has shown that. I can see the counternarrative aspect and the aspect of authorities like the Climate example… but not so clearly the “strategic inclusion” dimension and just barely expanding boundaries of authority and exprtise
good points… but not for general digital annotation… whether or not something like a Vialogue counts as knowledge construction in any traditional sense (I know a journal that does Vialogues around stuff…)
well this speaks also to the way Wikipedia defines authority. It is not enough that the author of the book in the Wikipedia article is saying it… he has to say it somewhere *else* that has some credibility according to Wikipedia’s standards
that is a cool story :)
Or maybe not ironically? Roth is no dummy; he doesn’t say so explicitly in the Open Letter, but I wonder if he didn’t know exactly what he was doing.
why is the above Figure 21 called “blackout poem”? Seems like an invitation by the authors for readers to do a blackout poem of it… but the figure itself is not a blackout poem as it stands here…
perhaps add a “?” to the invitation and prepend the words “an invitation to create a”
At this point, a thought crossed my mind related to Audrey Watters feeling like she did not want annotation to happen on her own website (but is happy to have it done outside her website if people wanted). I wonder if there is any value in unpacking that one here? Perhaps. perhaps not.
Ultimately Audrey Watters rescinded the Creative Commons license on her website, though I don’t think she ever mentioned specifically why she made that change (nor does she need to publicly state a reason) though it may have had something to do with annotations and/or harassment she experienced at the time.
I do remember thinking at the time she was looking at those decisions that in some sense by allowing annotations on her site, she was providing a platform and distribution for others to potentially harass her.
Some pieces of that extended conversation:
I think if you want to look deeply at power, since it is half the title of this chapter, you may want to go beyond just Foucault because there are so many different theoretical approaches to power and I don’t know how including or excluding them would influence this chapter. A good resource on this is Burbules A Theory of Power in Education https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1741-5446.1986.00095.x
(I assume you both have your favorite resources on this also, and when I read that article while doing my PhD it went over my head a bit, but would probably make sense to you :)) and probably to me, now ;)
That is an excellent point.
would be nice to include a screenshot. Also, I feel like I need to read up on Cambodian history to understand the significance of this particular royal - you don’t explicitly talk about how he is using power here. Was he trying to influence public opinion, was he just annotating for his own knowledge and learning, what kind of power is at play here?
(I also wonder if the whole leaders having “right to express freely their view” does not work to anyone’s favor in the case of Donald Trump, so I would contest this strongly. That freedom of expression for political leaders maybe should be weighted differently than for the general population, no? As it has broader consequences for the entire country or even the world…
I nearly added it above in the opening, but Maha’s comment reminds me of it again. In a countercultural way, a web developer created a browser plugin that will re-format all of Donald Trump’s tweets to appear as if they were written in crayon by an eight year old: http://maketrumptweetseightagain.com/
While not technically annotation in a “traditional” form discussed in the text so far—though close from the perspective of the redaction technique mentioned above—, by reformatting the font of Trumps tweets, it completely changes their context, meaning, and political weight.
You said “briefly” but the section on Roman Empire reads long and I started to lose focus. This may be on me because I am not particularly interested in the Roman Empire, but I was also not sure that all the details were needed to make your point across… perhaps consider shortening this and keeping it punchy and to the point? Readers can follow links to read more details if they’re interested?
And, in turn, the fair use provisions of US copyright law allow for transformative uses of the original work given the kind of commentary, critique, and parody that you are advocating for here.
What is this?
Again, as you bring this point home, I think that you need to accentuate your example about Wikipedia above by talking, specifically, about the policies that the entire Wikipedia community must adhere to.
I wonder if it would be helpful to offer a hypothetical case study or semi-fictional narrative of annotation where it has been used as a tool to suppress, liberate, or as a more neutral tool… perhaps in different contexts, but perhaps also within one context (whom might it liberate or oppress, for whom would it make no difference of power?). I’m annotating now as I read, so this may be something you have done in some form or another anyway..
It may not be your intent to do so, but if there was a point in the book to make some recommendations to educators (especially teachers of writing), this section would be it.
A clear, concise list of recommendations about how to use annotation in powerful, smart ways would be very helpful here, along with some specific activities that teachers and students could do.
I’m glad you brought this up here because it was buzzing in my brain just before you added it in.
Yes, you can.
This is transformative use.
You can bring in support from The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education.
I love that this is an offline example, about annotation in general. I’m starting by reading this chapter and thought the book was about open, collaborative annotation. I am extremely pleased with this start to the chapter. It’s really engaging and relevant and makes a strong point straight off
It could be useful to cite and explain Wikipedia’s stance on maintaining a “neutral point of view.”
Are people, after the annotations are shared, talking with these authors/artists? Talking about them? Talking at them?
In other words, you need to make the case that this is truly dialogic.
OK, so this is a powerful phrase, and for some reason stands in contrast with “annotation” as I read it.
That is, “annotation” seems to be something, while done with intention, that happens in the moment. It is fleeting, though meaningful.
This kind of “intentional redaction” took some planning. I doubt highly that O’Hare just randomly took the black marker to the text without having read it all the way through, at least once if not two or three times, and had a very specific purpose in mind by choosing these words, forming them into this particular sentence.
Again, talk about how this kind of annotation aligns with (adds to, differs from) your original idea of “annotation” as defined in the opening chapter.
I’ll agree to that, even though I have not yet read the opening chapter :)
As mentioned in the other chapter, it might behoove you to make mention of the rhetorical triangle here.
Moreover, in looking at these examples in this chapter, I began to wonder: Is graffiti a form of annotation?
Were annotatio really dialogic, however? I think that you also need to talk about how they run against what you have been discussing throughout the book.
I was getting this sense, also, and wondering.
That said, could you make a hint at it earlier? As a reader, I wish I would have known this earlier, even if I would have had to skip ahead to Chapter 5 to get the full definition.
Please see my note below about use of “annotator,” as this would be a good place to describe who an annotator is, what s/he does, and why it matters.
I may have overlooked it, but I don’t know that I have seen “annotators” — those doing the act of annotating — used as a noun anywhere in this manuscript before this.
It is a useful grammatical construction to consider, especially in this chapter, but also throughout the rest of the manuscript.
well I also had a question. Is writing a review on Yelp an “annotation”??? It does not modify or mark some “text” in some way… so I’m not sure … I should go back to how your earlier chapters!
When we are taking about authoship, its must that place from where that person talks, feels and see, filed by intersections that cross race, gender, class and over a ocidentalized subalternity. Are there intercrossings that works straight shows narratives as counternarratives and fields ignored, as endosex bodies X intersex, cis X trans, north X southern.