One might also introduce the term “intratextuality” as distinguished from “intertextuality.” The former refers to cross-references within a single text, whereas the latter involves references between or among different texts.
Annotation could involve both, I think. A note as such is intratextual … it is anchored to one specific text. But that note could itself contain a reference to another text, thereby introducing intertextuality.
And, of course, that further text might be made accessible through a link, giving us the category of hypertextuality.
Uses of annotation in journalism
Let me start this part for you.
“For example, the annotated contributions of Dr. Jeremy Dean, to whom we dedicate this book…”
While I use this line myself all the time (as salesman essentially), your repetition of the idea has finally given even me pause: there as so many assumptions in this idea that everyone annotates.
While it’s likely true for the readers of an MIT Press book and maybe fine as such, there are obviously many people who don’t and for reasons that often have to do with power.
Just one example is that some public school teachers often don’t allow students to write in the margins of their books because they will be collected and reused.
Should this section be above the one on note and add?
I think it’s interesting to bring in social media behavior here. What is Instagram but “everyday” visual notes on our lives?
I wonder if the above three paragraphs are really necessary to get here.
is document a strong enough word here? create?
I wish I could annotate directly on top of the images you have created but I don’t seem to be able to do that (no fault of yours .. just an observation). If I want to digitally annotate your images (like the one below), I need to move outside of the text and then share back into the text …
It’s strange to read this in the present, with echoes of the future, reaching back to the past. Of course, it has to be written that way, but it feels, here in the margins, like some odd time ripple. I am here, writing about what you say has already been written (and I may even be too late in the process). Time for more coffee …
This seems important — that the reader has a role in the text with annotation … either by themselves or with others.
Ah, yes, here’s mention of the orality component. Could be cool to circle back to the historical side of things to this end. When it comes to discussions of Western spiritual texts (particularly the Torah in Jewish tradition), “oral” annotation, so to speak, was considered far more sacred than written annotation (especially since you can’t write on Talmudic scrolls)
Maybe this will come later in the book too, but I’m wondering whether there is room for discussion here on how often annotation is explicitly taught in schools? To what extent do teachers actively ask their students to engage in annotation activity? Or do students pick up annotation in a more idiosyncratic way?
More accessible to whom exactly? And where does the concept of accessibility, from a disability perspective, fit in here when we talk about annotation?
Great question …
I wonder whether perhaps this section or at least your proposed definition of annotation might not be more useful if it occurred earlier in a reader’s experience? Shortly before getting here I went back and scoured the first sections of chapter 1 and the preface in search of a foundational definitional of annotation and wasn’t quite sure I could offer a working definition for your crucial term as you wanted me to understand it!
It also serves as an outlet for dissent & disagreement, even if only privately!
Great visual example from the Babylonian Talmud here: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3b/Babylonian_Talmud%2C_Seder_Zera%27im.jpg/800px-Babylonian_Talmud%2C_Seder_Zera%27im.jpg
This feels a bit more optimistic that I think is warranted. Annotation in journalism seems to me to trending toward very limited, expert-only voices interacting with texts. It might be helpful to balance this trend against a reflection on the rise and decline of ‘comment sections’ on news and other public websites (lots of sites have killed public comments/annotation in the last 5 years), and the relationship between bottom of the page comments (‘page notes’) and anchored annotation/marginalia? See https://www.niemanlab.org/2015/09/what-happened-after-7-news-sites-got-rid-of-reader-comments/ + https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/dropping-comment-sections/ + https://www.kqed.org/lowdown/29720/no-comment-why-a-growing-number-of-news-sites-are-dumping-their-comment-sections + https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/04/18/have-comment-sections-on-news-media-websites-failed + https://www.salon.com/2018/11/17/why-comments-sections-must-die/ + https://www.theatlantic.com/letters/archive/2018/02/letters-comments-on-the-end-of-comments/552392/ + https://www.wired.com/2015/10/brief-history-of-the-demise-of-the-comments-timeline/ + http://audreywatters.com/2017/04/26/no-annotations-thanks-bye
In particular, the technologies that we have at our disposal for accessing — and annotating — texts matter a great deal. Even if we have robust tools, we may not always know how to use them in the most productive ways, or to communicate our annotations to a wider audience.
Yet, in many ways, they still do… even in our e-book, editable, and constantly interactive world of texts, eventually a book has to stand alone in the world.
One reader’s interpretation of that book (via annotation) is a unique and beautiful act, and many readers can discuss the book, but the book (which could be revised later) still stands alone.
Going to your point above that some works of literature/film can have “implicit and interpretive intertextuality,” I don’t know that my current practice of annotation on your manuscript is something I would put into this intellectual register.
That is, I am annotating, but I don’t know that I am really creating the kinds of intertextuality described by literary theorists. I am making some links, adding some images, and sharing my own ideas, yes. But, I am not writing another book here, making tacit or overt references to your ideas, or mimicking your structure or style.
All this is to say, I think that you might want to make your argument on intertextuality a little more nuanced… are there different “levels” of intertextuality that happen, depending on the quality and type of annotation?
>But, I am not writing another book here…
Why not? How do you know!?
Keeping with my thread from above, if students are being told that they must annotate… I wonder if they are truly acting with agency, and engaging in genuine work of annotation. Or, are they merely fulfilling their assignment?
In short, I am afraid that the practice of having students use reading strategies to approach texts, while useful in many ways, can become a mindless exercise filled with many, many sticky notes and few genuine interactions with the text itself.
Agree with the above.
I wonder though if just complicating our understanding of agency and power in these annotation contexts might allows the focus on agency to remain, just complicated.
Another complication: the various platforms in which annotation can happen are themselves not neutral. Even the margin of a page of text has certain limitations and expectations…
Perhaps an additional pair of questions: By whom? For what purpose?
While I can agree that annotations in school are, for some students, common practice, I would encourage you to be more nuanced here.
For some students, who are willing and able to take the teacher’s shared notes, outlines, or slides (or, go so far as to make photocopies of their textbooks, they might engage in the kinds of personal and useful annotation practices you describe.
For the vast majority of students, however, I would argue that annotation (if done at all) is perfunctory. They are given specific texts and tasks, and required to make so many notations in trade for a grade.
The “required” part of your definition, then, could use some elaboration and, to extend the idea, some clarification on whether or not the process of annotating is, ultimately, useful for these students.
Moreover, connecting to your next idea, how can we help students learn to annotate in a way that honors and extends their own “idiosyncratic notation system[s]” in productive, engaging ways?
Seconding Troy’s thoughts here. It would also be interesting to consider the role of medium here and how that’s considered in schools (if at all). That is, annotation itself as a practice may be very different in print and in digital spaces. Is education a space where that nuance is approached? (Not sure if this is necessarily the right place for this particular conversation, but I think there’s more nuance for the school-based context as Troy suggests).
Another good example is the built up genealogy of family bibles inscribed with the names of owners and their family tree which are passed from one generation to the next. To some extent this is highlighted by the passages of the bible in which W begat X begat Y begat Z begat... (Genesis chapters 5 & 11).
These sorts of ancient and modern genealogies also heavily underpinned personal, familial, tribal, and governmental power structures through the ages. Paternity was power.
A well known popular culture version of this appears in the title of the book and film *Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince* as well as a primary plot point in which Potter actively eschews a beaten up copy of a potions textbook, but to his pleasant surprise find a heavily annotated text that helps him significantly in his studies.
I can't help but think of one of the biggest and longest standing puzzles in mathematics in Fermat's Last Theorem. He famously wrote in the margin of a book that he had a proof. but that it was too large to fit in the margin.
Yes! We really like this example, too, and wondered where to strategically include in the book. Ultimately, we're still searching for the right place or moment to mention Fermat… as you read the book, perhaps you can suggest where it may be best to include this example.
Google has accelerated this by using search to better link pieces of knowledge in the modern world, but scholars have been linking thoughts manually for centuries.
Surprisingly, these have only been recently aggregated online at [Sefaria](https://www.sefaria.org/texts) a story delineated here:
Other great examples include teaching and scientific progress. Owen Gingerich details annotations in all the extant copies of Copernicus in his text [The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus](https://www.amazon.com/Book-Nobody-Read-Revolutions-Copernicus/dp/B000BNPG8C). There it seemed obvious that the moving state-of-the art of science and teaching was reflected in the annotations made by professors who handed those annotations down to students who also copied them into their textbooks.
In some sense this is a textual equivalent of the directors commentary tracks on DVDs from the 1990's in which one could watch films with overdubbed running commentary of the film's director (and often cast, producers, et al. as appropriate).
The first time I recall seeing such journalistic annotations was on the web in The Smoking Gun (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/) which generally annotated court documents that were the source of newsworthy tidbits—generally relating to celebrities or gossip pages.
Great example, and perhaps one we should explicitly mention.
copyediting, will do
So, let’s say I cringe when writing on the paper and use post-it notes instead, would that not count under your definition? Because it can be removed so isn’t permanent? Pencil annotations can be erased.
This is very much the case for me. And this has also evolved over time, as the purpose of my reading has shifted.
I’m sure that you will also discuss the value of annotation for personal/private use also.
Maybe even the next paragraph. Ha!
It would be fantastic to have the links to these items here in the text. Do you plan to add that later?
I agree with Heather. The link to the NYTimes annotated/searchable version of the Mueller Report would be a good example.
And other texts: the doorjamb with a child’s growth marks, William Burke’s computer log, a building annotated with graffiti, etc.
Loving the stress on agency here. In this context, thinking how notes become a physical manifestation of agency that may occur otherwise without record, like that voice in my head while reading that keeps saying things like “WTF?” or “Exactly!!!!!!).
Maybe there’s a connection here to your earlier concern regarding the “deterministic effects attributed to annotation.” People have agency. People are exercising their agency when adding notes to texts. And when that happens, annotation serves five purposes (as we suggest here in Chapter 1 and explore throughout the book) and it is those annotation purposes that consequently have certain effects… is that helpful?
This moth should become the mascot of multimodal annotation.
?!* couldn’t resist!
Again: maybe “enable” would be a better choice?
Yes, as noted above, we can easily revise throughout.
Just putting a +1 on all of these comments from Nate, Chris, and Troy!
Related to my note above about power in annotation, I feel I need to post a concern here that I’m on the watchout for deterministic effects attributed to annotation as a general technology/practice — rather than to specific social deployments of annotation practices. Each of these outcomes seems like a _possible_, but not _required_ outcome of annotation in specific contexts.
This slightly negative characterization of annotation is a bit jarring as so far we readers have not been presented with a negative view of annotation.
Helpful, thank you.
This sentence made me pause. I certainly think the first clause is worthy, but I’m not sure the the second must always follow. I expect you’ll get into power more later in the book, but based on what I’ve read so far, this seems like a very strong statement to make.
Yes, a strong statement to make. Can we revisit this once you’ve read Chapter 5?
Is the idea that this sentence might link to a way to see possible annotations on this book?
Antero and I have thought a lot about how to create an annotation experience with this manuscript, in both digital and print form, and how that experience can *enable* ongoing conversation. This open review helps to check the box for digital interactions, trails, and spaces. The custom illustrations in every chapter ideally invite reader interaction with the print text (once the book is in hand). And the dedicated hashtag #AnnoConvo will hopefully become another “place” to archive some of that activity. For example, perhaps a future reader annotates one of the custom illustrations - like Fig 5 in this chapter - and then photographs their book/annotation and shares via social media with the #AnnoConvo tag.
For other examples of annotation being used in the sciences, see ClinGen (https://www.clinicalgenome.org/working-groups/biocurators/), NIF (https://neuinfo.org/about/organization), the Qualitative Data Repository (https://qdr.syr.edu/), and SciBot (https://web.hypothes.is/blog/annotation-with-scibot/). I could connect more dots to these or intro folks how know more.
I didn’t know about ClinGen, thank you! QDR is featured in Chapter 2 in our section “Information among Knowledge Communities.” And SciBot is featured in Chapter 7 when we ask, “How should we read human-machine annotation?”
Starting to seem like I only care about em dashes ;) but I think this would read better set apart with em-dashes ;)
Consider replacing throughout with real em-dashes: — ;)
Copyediting - will do ;)
Maybe addressed elsewhere in the text, but it would be nice to see some other examples of fact-checking here. https://climatefeedback.org/ comes to mind, or for a meta-example, Poynter’s “What to expect from fact-checking in 2018”, annotated later to evaluate their predictions (https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/2017/what-to-expect-from-fact-checking-in-2018/#annotations:16039949). There are likely more…
Thanks for these suggestions, Nate. Climate Feedback is featured in the final section of Chapter 3 (and I hope you appreciate the particular example of peer review that we highlight!). The Poynter resource is great, perhaps that becomes an endnote here?
This sentence is tripping me up with the comma and no “and”. Maybe the comma is more like a colon or em-dash, something like: “Annotation enables journalists to comment more transparently — to share behind-the-scenes or insider perspectives more informally.”?
Yup, a change for clarity. Or maybe also including the word “and” between clauses?
Whenever I see “allows”, I always wonder if “enables” might be a better word choice. Here I think so…
Yes, thank you. We can adjust throughout. That’s a very important distinction related to your broader comments regarding agency.
Love this. In my work, I view “Text” as being very broad. And “notes” on text…or annotation should/could add value to that intersection.
One of the features that I wish I had in a tool like Hypothesis (I guess I have it in Vialogues/VideoANT), but I would love to annotate these different texts, and connect the dots across those spaces. Connect a note on a video to a note on a wikipage to a note on a tweet.
Using annotation to connect across multiple texts and multimedia texts/compositions would make more visible thinking, engagement, and agency of the annotator. Perhaps this is yet to come …
Making me think about affordances of different forms of text (images, hyperlinks, GIFs, video, text) and what that adds or detracts from the text.
This is interesting… if we take an image (or GIF, or other item) that someone else has created, and insert it into our own annotation, have we made it “our own?” Remixed or repurposed it? Can that be considered an annotation, in the sense that we are adding value to the text, or really just a comment of little consequence?
Loving multimodality in here…also the connection to “embers.”
I, too, appreciate that you are already layering in multimodality, even in some print-centric examples of annotation.
In addition to the ideas you are offering about multimodality here, I would also encourage you to look at the seminal work of Gunter Kress, for instance Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication.
I’ve viewed these annotation practices (e.g., Hypothesis) as having “discussion about the text baked into the text.” This has the potential to provide a third space for not only dialogue, but growth in a variety of areas.
I’d be curious to know more about the concept of annotation as a “third space” — is the idea that what unfolds in the margins becomes its own, distinct text that can be separated from the original but still stand on its own?
Along with these trends, we do see some that do not value the use/inclusion of annotation on their publishing spaces as they view it as another form of commentary about their work that may modify/limit points made.
This is also making me think about power, access, and digital literacy/savvy. When I first introduce people to Hypothesis, some of their responses are about the fact that “anyone can annotate online” and “on the spaces they already read.” Some view this “invisible layer” of annotation on the Internet as questionable/problematic.
Interesting thought. I’ve always viewed annotation as “additive” or generally positive/beneficial for all. I’ve thought (perhaps it’s my own bias) that redaction is a negative…but now that I’m typing this I realize (I think) that redaction is a type of annotation…and annotation/redaction always benefits someone…it just might not be you. :)
In this respect, you may be very interested to see our discussion about power and redaction in Chapter 5.
!!! I cannot add a GIF here?!?! :)
Exactly…having discussion about the text…baked into the text.
I hope you’re including a mention of Jasper Fforde’s use of the footnoterphone as a tool for conversation across the book world he created in his Thursday Next series.
Might you share a specific link/resource, Bud? Thanks!
But what really, <i>really</i> matters is that the act of making the note is frequently an act of talking back to the text, of recognizing and/or remembering that the author of the text you’re reading isn’t the only person with something to say, and that what they’re saying may not be the last word on the subject.
Bud’s point here about “talking back to the text” is important, and I think that we could employ other prepositions as well.
What does it mean to talk to the text? About the text? Beyond the text? Within the text? Through the text?
Annotation can serve all of these purposes, when approached strategically.
I was gonna say that if I didn’t see a discussion of Marginalia in this book somewhere, I’d be disappointed.
So you lead with a poem ‘bout it. Well played.
If you’re looking for a formal definition of marginalia, as a particular type of annotation, check out Chapter 2 where as also discuss rubrics and rubrication, scholia, and other “forms that inform.”
Hmm. Me, too, but I didn’t even think about Director Cuts/Commentary DVDs as annotation until you mentioned it
The first annotation I really remember interacting with was all A/V based: VH1 Pop Up Videos and Director Commentaries on the DVD Extras section for movies I liked.