TechBlog: eLife replaces commenting system with Hypothesis annotations

The next time you feel moved to comment on an article in the open-access online journal eLife, be prepared for a different user experience. On 31 January, eLife announced it had adopted the open-source annotation service, Hypothesis, replacing its traditional commenting system. That’s the result of a year-long effort between the two services to make Hypothesis more amenable to the scholarly publishing community.

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Things we read this week (2 February 2018)

Welcome to Things we read this week, a weekly post featuring articles from around the internet recommended by BMJ’s Digital Group members. These are articles we’ve read and liked, things that made us think and things we couldn’t stop talking about. Check back every Friday for a new post.

  • Commenting

    PubMed Commons to be discontinued after comments were submitted on 6,000 of the 28 million articles indexed in PubMed. The Atlantic is also killing its comments in favor of a new Letters section to showcase reader feedback The move is designed to promote the best feedback from its readers by incentivizing more thought-out responses and by making it easier for others to read them (which in turn improves the overall experience of reading TheAtlantic.com). Euan Adie did some interesting work analysing scientific comments many years ago, I wonder if much has changed? Perhaps annotations will be the next big thing?  eLife and Hypothesis have released a new integration  that allows users to annotate articles more easily.

  • Login Collectives & GDPR

    German publishers are adopting login strategies to ensure compliance with the proposed ePrivacy law to gain consumer consent for all cookie use. Interestingly the favored approach is login collectives made up of major publishing groups and nonpublisher partners.  Be interesting to see how the main STM platform providers respond and if they will incorporate this kind of access into their platforms.

  • Trends

    Megatrends: predicting the future to reinvent today
    Interesting talk by HP Inc.’s Chief Technology Officer and Global Head of HP Labs about the major socio-economic, demographic and technological shifts occurring across the globe that may have a sustained, transformative impact on the world and humanity in the decades ahead.
    Digital trends and observations from Davos 2018
    “One other undercurrent of concern was around the idea of a “techlash,” or backlash against tech companies driven by fears that they are becoming too large and monopolistic. At one level is the basic concern that tech companies are just outcompeting incumbents, but beyond that there’s a sense that large tech companies are dictating terms to the marketplace, not taking privacy concerns seriously enough, and unfocused on the social implications of technology.”

  • dataviz

    New dataviz from Google News Lab using Google Location History to rank cities and counties by their most popular cuisine.

Visit Pubtechgator to find more publishing technology news stories.

eLife enhances open annotation with Hypothesis to promote scientific discussion online

eLife, in collaboration with Hypothesis, has introduced open annotation to enable users of its website to make comments, highlight important sections of articles and engage with the reading public online. The open-source Hypothesis software has been extensively customised for use by eLife and other publishers with new moderation features, single sign-on authentication and user-interface customisation options now giving publishers more control over its implementation on their sites.

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Syndicating annotations

Steel Wagstaff asks:

Immediate issue: we’ve got books on our dev server w/ annotations & want to move them intact to our production instance. The broader use case: I publish an open Pressbook & users make public comments on it. Someone else wants to clone the book including comments. How?

There are currently three URL-independent identifiers that can be used to coalesce annotations across instances of a web document published at different URLs. The first was the PDF fingerprint, the second was the DOI, and a third, introduced recently as part of Hypothesis’ EPUB support, uses Dublin Core metadata like so:

<meta name=”dc.identifier” content=”xchapter_001″>
<meta name=”dc.relation.ispartof” content=”org.example.hypothesis.demo.epub-samples.moby-dick-basic”>

If you dig into our EPUB.js and Readium examples, you’ll find those declarations are common to both instances of chapter 1 of Moby Dick. Here’s an annotation anchored to the opening line, Call me Ishmael. When the Hypothesis client loads, in a page served from either of the example URLs, it queries for two identifiers. One is the URL specific to each instance. The other is a URN formed from the common metadata, and it looks like this:

urn:x-dc:org.example.hypothesis.demo.epub-samples.moby-dick-basic/chapter_001

When you annotate either copy, you associate its URL with this Uniform Resource Name (URN). You can search for annotations using either of the URLs, or the just URN like so:

https://hypothes.is/search?q=url:urn:x-dc:org.example.hypothesis.demo.epub-samples.moby-dick-basic/xchapter_001

Although it sprang to life to support ebooks, I think this mechanism will prove more broadly useful. Unlike PDF fingerprints and DOIs, which typically identify whole works, it can be used to name chapters and sections. At a conference last year we spoke with OER (open educational resource) publishers, including Pressbooks, about ways to coalesce annotations across their platforms. I’m not sure this approach is the final solution, but it’s usable now, and I hope pioneers like Steel Wagstaff will try it out and help us think through the implications.

Weaving the annotated web

In 1997, at the first Perl Conference, which became OSCON the following year, my friend Andrew Schulman and I both gave talks on how the web was becoming a platform not only for publishing, but also for networked software.

Here’s the slide I remember from Andrew’s talk:

http://wwwapps.ups.com/tracking/tracking.cgi?tracknum=1Z742E220310270799

The only thing on it was a UPS tracking URL. Andrew asked us to stare at it for a while and think about what it really meant. “This is amazing!” he kept saying, over and over. “Every UPS package now has its own home page on the world wide web!” Continue reading “Weaving the annotated web”

How shared vocabularies tie the annotated web together

I’m fired up about the work I want to share at Domains 2017 this summer. The tagline for the conference is Indie Tech and Other Curiosities, and I plan to be one of the curiosities!

I’ve long been a cheerleader for the Domain of One’s Own movement. In Reclaiming Innovation, Jim Groom wrote about the need to “understand technologies as ‘potentiality’ (to graft a concept by Anton Chekov from a literary to a technical context).” He continued:

This is the idea that within the use of every technical tool there is more than just the consciousness of that tool, there is also the possibility to spark something beyond those predefined uses. The only real way to galvanize that potentiality is to provide the conditions of possibility — that is, a toolkit for user innovation.

Continue reading “How shared vocabularies tie the annotated web together”

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