The Margin Newsletter #2
Since we last updated you we’ve accomplished a tremendous amount. We’ve shipped key enhancements (and have many more in store), made life easier for developers, hired staff and secured substantially more funding. We’re excited to bring you some of our recent news, and hope you might connect us to some new teammates.
- We’ve launched a new feature that allows direct linking to annotations (read our blog post and try it!).
- You can now annotate local PDFs that aren’t on the web (read our blog post).
- We’ve dramatically increased the performance of heavily annotated pages.
- We’ve made it much easier for developers to install and work with our application.
- In April we had the first face to face meeting of the Annotating All Knowledge coalition in Portland, now over 70 partners strong.
- We recently hosted our 4th annual I Annotate conference in Berlin (video playlist here).
- Outside developers have been building innovative things against our codebase and API, like Hypothesis Aggregator from Kris Shaffer and Hypothes.is Collector from John Stewart.
- We’ve been featured in the NY Times, Newsweek, Fast Company, Poynter and more.
- On August 2nd we hosted an Educator Institute at the University of Colorado Denver.
- We closed on $1.9M in new funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Omidyar Network.
- This fall, we’ll be alpha testing a prototype app for the Canvas Learning Management System, and we’re looking for volunteers!
We have open positions for a:
A direct link is a key new feature that lets you travel to an annotation in the context of the annotated document.
You can try it right now by clicking this link.
Notice that direct links can also be embedded as links in annotations themselves, allowing users to travel from within one document to within another.
If you have installed the Hypothesis Chrome Extension, the linked annotation will activate the extension. If you don’t, the annotation will display on the document using our “via” proxy (read about via here). To try this new feature, click on the “Share” button of any annotation. The direct link will be preceded with the hyp.is domain. For more details about this feature you may want to read our blog post, or Christina Englebart’s post.
Performance and architecture improvements
We have improved the speed of annotations appearing on a page. You may notice the improvements especially in pages with many annotations.
PDFs are now identified by their “fingerprint” and not by URL. This helps ensure that annotations will flow across copies of the same PDF. You can read more about it in our blog post.
We’ve also been working on decoupling our client code from our server code. If you are a developer, you will notice it’s much easier now to work on the Hypothesis client and the browser extension.
I Annotate 2016
We held our first I Annotate conference outside of the US in Berlin this past May, co-located with the W3C Web Annotation Working Group’s semi-annual face to face. It was our fourth annual annotation event– we also held one in 2013, 2014 and 2015. A key goal of this year’s conference was to bring annotation to the larger international community, and to start to build these relationships and networks across the annotation ecosystem. The conference was well attended, and we are happy to report that we had ~150 attendees coming from 18 countries!
We’d like to acknowledge our sponsors, Microsoft, Deutsche Telekom and Springer Nature, whose generous support made this year’s event possible. We’d also like to thank all of the presenters and panelists for their contributions; their talks clearly demonstrated that web annotation is continuing to gain traction as a compelling collaborative activity with a diverse range of uses and users. You can read about the event here. Recordings of the conference sessions are posted on YouTube here: I Annotate 2016 Video Recordings
In December 2015 we announced the formation of the Annotating All Knowledge Coalition — an informal partnership of like-minded scholarly publishers, platforms, libraries, and technology organizations that are working together to bring about an open and interoperable conversation layer over the web for the purpose of advancing scholarship and research. We launched the coalition with ~40 organizations and, as of today, we now have 71 coalition partners.
An AAK steering committee was formed to provide leadership and guidance for the coalition, and the coalition had its first face-to-face meeting in Portland, OR in April, 2016 as part of the FORCE 11 annual conference. We made strides on defining attributes of interoperable annotations and in defining use cases that can drive development. Coalition members have formed partnerships to start exploring how annotations created across different platforms can be shared.
The W3C is looking for implementations of the Open Annotation Data Model and Web Annotation Protocol standard to validate that the W3C working group recommendation is implementable and consistent (e.g. no specification mistakes).
Prototype App for Canvas LMS
This fall, we’ll be alpha testing a Hypothes.is prototype app for the Canvas Learning Management System. It enables native annotation of web pages and PDFs within the LMS, and allows students to submit sets of annotations for grading and feedback by teachers. By the spring term we plan to allow for automatic Hypothes.is account creation based on student Canvas identities. In this pilot year for our LTI app, Instructure has brought Hypothes.is on as a Certified Partner. If you work at a school using Canvas and are interested in being part of the alpha cohort, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hypothesis is Growing!
Since our last communication, Hypothesis has added some additional folks to the engineering team. Please join us in welcoming developers Christof Dorner, based in Berlin, and Sheetal Umesh Kumar, based in NYC. You can learn more about Christof and Sheetal on our website. We are also excited to announce two new hires — Joining soon are Arti Walker-Paddakotla, Senior Product Manager, and Sean Roberts, Senior Developer.
We are looking for software developers to help us build a better Hypothesis. If you or someone you know might be interested, more information can be found on our website or by sending Lena Gunn an email at email@example.com.
We are also expanding our leadership team and are looking for talented people to fill the following positions. We could use your help with recruiting if you know someone you think would be a great fit:
- Director, Marketing – Will grow our user base through a combination of product strategy, partnerships, coalitions and growth hacking with the primary service.
- Director, Fundraising – Will lead fundraising efforts at Hypothesis, building on our existing relationships and cultivating new ones to secure the capital necessary to bridge us to sustainability.
- Director, Business Development – Will grow our base of paying customers, and our distribution across publishers and platforms in support of our mission.
We are very pleased to announce that we have received $1.9M in new grant awards from the following foundations:
- The Andrew J. Mellon Foundation – $1,000,000 for a 2-year grant award on annotating all knowledge in the arts & humanities
- The Omidyar Network Fund – $500,000 for a 1-year grant award on achieving long-term sustainability
- The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation – $394,465 for a 1-year grant award on pivoting towards sustainability
We have also received $950K in additional funding from:
- The Helmsley Charitable Trust – $676,058 for year 2 of a 3-year grant award on bringing open annotation to the biomedical sciences by enhancing collaboration, discovery and reproducibility
- The Shuttleworth Foundation – $275,000 for a 6-month grant award for work on the AAK Coalition and sustainability
We want to recognize and thank each of these foundations for their generosity and support of our mission and work to bring an open and interoperable annotation layer to the web!
We’ve been featured in the NY Times, Newsweek, Fast Company, Poynter, Science and more. Here are links to some recent articles about annotation you might find of interest:
- Annotation might be the future of fact-checking, Poynter, May 25, 2016
- Scientists Build a Hype Detector for Online Climate News and Commentary, The New York Times Dot Earth, May 3, 2016
- WITH WEB ANNOTATION, YOU CAN COMMENT ON ANY PAGE—BUT SHOULD YOU?, Newsweek Tech & Science, April 30, 2016
- Are We Finally Ready To Annotate The Entire Internet?, Fast Company, March 4, 2016
- Critiquing climate coverage, Science, February 29, 2016
And here’s the link to a more complete list of press articles.
Involving owners in page annotation
In the past months we launched a small research initiative to gather different points of view about website publishers and authors consent to annotation. Our goal was to identify different paths forward taking into account the perspectives of publishers, engineers, developers and people working on abuse and harassment issues. We have published a first summary of our discussion on our blog post about involving page owners in annotation.
- Hypothesis Educator Institute – We recently hosted our first Hypothesis Educator Institute at the University of Colorado Denver. Practicing Hypothesis educators facilitated the day’s activities and a diverse group of high school and college teachers from the greater Denver area attended. This is a model we hope to replicate.
- We’ve been accepted to participate in EDUCAUSE’s Start-Up Alley as part of the exhibition at their annual conference, so our own Jeremy Dean and Jon Udell will be heading to Anaheim in early October.
- Hypothesis will be at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, Nov 12-16, with our partners, the Neuroscience Information Framework. We will be debuting SciBot, a tool for annotating research resources in the biomedical literature.
Year over year, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in usage of the Hypothesis platform.
This success can be attributed, in part, to our efforts within Education (teachers and students using the app for instruction and deep / collaborative learning), and to various features, especially the rollout of private group annotation.
As you may notice from the charts, there is a strong seasonal profile, which is related to the academic calendar. As we are in the summer break right now, our numbers for June and July reflect this pattern.
Active Users as of July 31st, 2016
Annotations as of July 31st, 2016
Donations / your support
Your contributions support what we do. Hypothesis is a US 501.c3 non-profit organization. While our long term objectives are financial sustainability through commercial revenues, we rely on grant support and community donations to get started. Please consider making a contribution!
Not registered yet? If you’d like to try out web annotation, you can create an account and get started at https://hypothes.is.