I Annotate 2021 Presents: Open Annotation Gifts for All

By Nate Angell | 9 July, 2021

I Annotate 2021 logo with open book with hands writing in it and beside that are the words I Annotate 2021 and Reading Together

I Annotate 2021 is a wrap! We read together, listened closely, asked thoughtful questions, and of course annotated together. For the first time since the inception of I Annotate — way back in 2013 — we held the conference in an all-virtual setting. The flexibility of being fully online enabled record new participants, with over 700 registrants from every rounded corner of the globe, coming from over 50 different countries.

The rich vibrancy of the open annotation community was in full flower at #ianno21, where folks attended keynotes, panels, flashtalks, educator office hours, and hands-on introductory sessions, keeping the side conversations going with the ever-present text chat made possible by the virtual setting. Attendees also met up informally in the virtual lounge, dropping in to ad hoc video meetups that came really close to enabling those hallway conversations that are often the most valuable part of conferences. At the end of each day, we cut loose a bit during the virtual social hours — including annotating our heads with hats as we showed off our favorite online — and offline — annotations.

There’s a lot to explore across the full five days of the conference. You can check out the full #ianno21 program and visit session detail pages to view specific recordings and resources. You can even annotate the program itself, and annotate video transcripts of each session while you watch recordings. Annotating a conference on open annotation — how meta is that? (Drop your answer in the margins of this blog post!)

Every #ianno21 session is worth a visit, but we want to highlight some of the big moments in the program, starting with the four very special keynotes.

Thumbnail from Courtney McClellan's #ianno21 Keynote video, showing her headshot, the event logo, and the title of her session: "Annotation as an Artistic Act: Speculative Annotation, a New Library of Congress Web-based Experiment"

Keynote: Annotation as an Artistic Act: Speculative Annotation, a New Library of Congress Web-based Experiment

Courtney McClellan, Artist and Library of Congress 2021 Innovator in Residence, showcased various artists that engage annotation in their work and unveiled Speculative Annotation, a new dynamic educational tool that enables students, teachers and any user to annotate a curated selection of primary sources from the Library of Congress’s collection.

Thumbnail from Manuel Espinoza and Frida Silva's #ianno21 Keynote video, showing their headshots, the event logo, and the title of their session: "Annotation and the Social Prize of Educational Dignity"

Keynote: Annotation and the Social Prize of Educational Dignity

Right2Learn Dignity Lab Director Manuel Espinoza and Senior Research Associate Frida Silva describe how the Lab has worked with students to enable them to become public legal scholars, using annotation to create a handbook on dignity as defined in actual legislation and their work to amend the “education clause” of the Colorado constitution.

Thumbnail from Antero Garcia and Remi Kalir's #ianno21 Keynote video, showing their headshots, the event logo, and the title of their session: "#AnnoConvo: A Conversation about Annotation, Literacy, and Learning"

Keynote: #AnnoConvo: A Conversation about Annotation, Literacy, and Learning

Stanford’s Antero Garcia and University of Colorado Denver’s Remi Kalir talk about the wider world of annotation through history and beyond the books, drawing from the research and collaborative processes they used in writing their new book, Annotation.

Thumbnail from David Bokan's #ianno21 Keynote video, showing his headshots, the event logo, and the title of his session: "Building Annotation Into Browsers"

Keynote: Building Annotation Into Browsers

David Bokan, Software Engineer on Google Chrome, discussed his team’s work on building support for annotation directly into Chromium browser technology, and what the future might look like if annotation becomes a standard capability across all browsers.


Given social annotation’s dramatic growth during the massive migration to remote teaching and learning in the pandemic, #ianno21 also had daily panels on annotation in education and featured educator office hours. In keeping with this year’s theme — reading together — the touchstone across all sessions was how more and more people are coming together through social annotation to share ideas, ask questions, and make connections. Check the program for details and recordings for each session.

Two sessions stood out during the gathering as surfacing new waves of technology and practices that are rippling across the annotation community:

Flashtalks & Panel: The Future of Note Taking (FoNT)

Speakers from contemporary projects engaged in reimagining the technology and practices of digital note taking (including Agora, FedWiki, Hypothesis, Logseq, Org-mode, Readwise, Roam, and WorldBrain)  describe, demonstrate, and discuss their work in a series of short flashtalks, and engage each other and attendees in conversation about the history and future of personal knowledge management practices.

Panel: Social Learning Across Content: Imagining a World Where Readers Can Connect on Any Text

Founding members of the new Social Learning Across Content coalition talk about banding together as content platforms, publishers, tool providers, schools, and other stakeholders to realize their mission to make it possible for people to engage with each other and share ideas across all content, no matter where it’s hosted or how it’s accessed.

Hypothesis Roadmap: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

And in case you missed it, our own Jeremy Dean discussed what’s been happening at Hypothesis since we last gathered at I Annotate 2019, and where we’re headed next.

A brown t-shirt, black hoodie, and white mug all with the #ianno21 logo.

Get your #ianno21 gear

Maybe you already have a t-shirt from every I Annotate and want to ensure your collection is complete? Or maybe you’ve long wanted a hoodie that would show off your support for open annotation? Maybe you need a mug to serve that annotation kool aid? Or maybe you just can’t get enough of #ianno21’s artwork, an inspired mashup of Escher and Soviet-era posters? Visit the new store to get your gear from this year. We are also planning to post designs from years past for folks who might have worn out or lost their precious annotation gear.

It was great to see the smiling faces of everyone at I Annotate and to connect with friends new and old. If you weren’t able to attend, we’re sorry we missed you, and we hope you enjoy the recordings and collected resources. Feel free to share them with friends and colleagues who are curious about open annotation — whether in the context of teaching, research, publishing, technology, or other areas where open annotation is helping to make reading active, visible, and social.

See you at I Annotate 2022, the only question is where? Online? Offline? Or both?


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