Annotation is an interesting world. It has survived the many changes in book technologies until, interestingly enough, the net. It’s not that we have never needed it, it’s that we haven’t been able to do a good job of it. There have been some good attempts – CommentPress was one by Bob Stein and the Future of the Book Institute. Comment Press was useful, I installed it myself and used it – it was built on top of WordPress. But Bob and crew learned their lessons and improved the idea with the yet-to-be released Social Book.
On top of that has been Purple Numbers (by Douglas Engelbart – you know! the guy that invented the mouse!) , and the code known as Marginalia, and there have been three of four attempts using Jquery to get this right. While Marginalia did get included into Moodle, which is pretty cool, it didn’t really take off and none of the other attempts got anywhere.
I think that might be about to change with a very nice relatively new project called AnnotateIt. It is built on top of Jquery and is built by the crew behind the Open Knowledge Foundation, which in turn has been supported extensively by the Shuttleworth Foundation.
It’s good stuff. Very simple to use as either a free and centralised service, or you can establish your own annotation server. I am trialling it at the moment wíth FLOSS Manuals. You can create an account at http://annotateit.org/
And then try it on FLOSS Manuals. For example:
Looking forward to trying it out. Any feedback on both the book and the annotation tool is very much welcomed.