Annotating the web: my new job

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll start a new job tomorrow, as product manager for Hypothesis. We’re a small team chartered to build open annotation software for the web. We expect it will be useful in many domains, including education, science, journalism, and government.

Some of you who know me in one or another of those contexts will be hearing from me in coming weeks. I’ll want to know how you annotate the web now, what you need annotation software to be, and how we can work together to meet that need.

I’ve long imagined a standards-based annotation layer for the web. Now’s my chance to help make it real. Exciting! If you’d like to get involved, ping judell at

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22 thoughts on “Annotating the web: my new job

    1. Let’s find out. H’s fuzzy anchoring is in theory just what you need for volatile texts. Devil in the details of course.

    2. GMTA. You beat me to the punch. I posted a comment exactly to this effect, albeit on another of Jon’s posts. :)

  1. Congrats, Jon!

    I will look forward to learning more about this new way of annotating the web. What I have seen and tried in the past hasn’t been fluid, and so not very useful. Annotating sources is key for teaching and key for researching, obviously. I teach it to my students, but a great digital method would be so wonderful to increase efficiency in online research.

    I tried SocialBook a few years ago as a way to group annotate a class reading. But it did not work out for me, sadly. Do you know if it’s still around?

    Hope you are both well and all the pets are adjusting.

    All the best,


    Nancy McGartland, MFA

    Instructor in Composition

    Department of Humanities

    Franklin Pierce University

    002 Edgewood

    40 University Drive

    Rindge, NH 03431


    1. Let’s do the experiment, then. I very much want instructors to use Hypothesis in class settings and help us improve it for that purpose.

    1. I’ll be writing here about my work and other things. Also at InfoWorld in my weekly column on collaboration. Also I’m sure on the Hypothesis blog.

  2. Congrats Jon! I’d love to see this extend to APIs, so the machine readable web too! Would be good companion to the APIs.json and Swagger API definition work I’m already doing. Will ping you at your email. #ChangeIsGood ;-)

  3. Very nice!! I’ve always loved that idea too. As you may recall much of what we were trying to do with KRL was focused on web annotation.

  4. When Eric Van Der Vlist wrote his Relax NG book, it was on the web using an annotation system to allow readers to comment and improve the book. IMHO it worked very well. I’ve asked Eric previously, I don’t think the software was commercial.
    Trying to find out more.
    Glad you’re working again Jon

  5. Congrats, Jon! So far things there look pretty interesting. While grabbing the blog URL to add it to my reader, I noticed the story about Via, jumped from that to the PyWb github archive, clicked the link to Memento there, which took me to the oldest Wayback Machine page of my site that wasn’t just a login screen. There I am reading my blog from July 2001, and one of the links…is to your Byte column on “The Universal Canvas”. What a long, wild ride this has been; looking forward to your next adventure!

  6. Jon,
    How does Hypothesis differ from the annotation features being added in the new Microsoft browser? I assume it’ll be cross-platform and support multiple browsers.

  7. I’m looking forward to using this! I remember long discussions with Project Xanadu in the 1980’s trying to implement this in the pre-web days.

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