I'm at the MIT Media Lab's CODEX Literary Hackathon this weekend—an event focused on prototyping tools for the future of digital reading, books, libraries, and publishing. Below is my description of the annotation "filter problem", the research challenge that I'm bringing to the table at the event (although I might end up working on something else—we'll see!).
Update: I pitched "Team Annotation" and we ended up getting around ten people together to brainstorm annotation, before breaking into several smaller project teams. Read our Team Annotation notes here and see what I ended up hacking on here.
I ran my first test of these ideas about balancing algorithmic and community curation of public discussion by building InfiniteUlysses.com, experimenting with crowd commentary around a notoriously difficult novel and rejuvenating a platform traditionally aimed only at scholars (the digital edition) via social mechanics used on sites like Reddit and StackExchange. My design both supported social textual annotation, and also personalized (at a very basic level) the display of the resulting huge quantity of public-authored annotations to fit each reader's needs and background. Our filtering work could be on the Infinite Ulysses site itself, elsewhere using Infinite Ulysses' code, or something else entirely.
Reddit + Ulysses, anyone?
This weekend, might we experiment with balancing both coded mechanics and social curation to give people better reading experiences: a non-overwhelming amount of annotations per page, tuned to their interests, background, and needs? Some steps we could start to brainstorm and prototype:
I'm also especially interested in anything related to annotation, social reading, and communities designed around various types of "difficult" text (challenging to read, politically contentious, requiring deep field or historical knowledge to understand...)