Angus Grieve-Smith deposited Annotation: U Store It in the group 2018 MLA Convention on MLA Commons 5 years, 2 months ago
Document annotation is almost as old as writing. The designers of the World Wide Web envisioned a system that would allow people to publicly annotate any document. The advent of cloud computing has finally made this feasible: distributed annotation systems like Hypothes.is allow users to save annotations privately, or share them with the public. The
annotations can be simple blobs of text, or reusable, filterable tags. This can help people engage much more with archives.
But can we trust the annotation server – or the cloud host that it uses – to keep our data? If the service is “free,” what warranty do we have that the annotations will remain available to the public – or the annotators, or the owners of the archive? What if we want more structured annotations, such as key-value pairs? Suppose we want to share our annotations with a group, but not make them public yet – or ever? If the underlying document changes, can the annotation adjust? Can we track changes in annotations the way we track changes in any other document?
Fortunately, there is technology that can answer some of these needs. The World Wide Web Consortium’s new annotation standard, API servers like the Django REST framework, encryption, and version control systems like Git can be combined to provide solutions. I will discuss some ways that these could be applied to literary archives.