I've been interested in Genius (the annotation website that started out as Rap Genius but has expanded its model outwards in the last couple of years) for a few years now. I've only just caught up with the fact though that there's a Chrome plug-in that can be used to add annotations to any web page. Accompanying that is News Genius, which describes itself as " a community of prize-winning writers, passionate readers, artists, designers, engineers, students ... pushing the limits of how people have traditionally read and related to the news by annotating new stories every day". In this Google spreadsheet you can see a list of news and magazine stories that have been annotated.
I first came upon all this in the wild over the weekend, when Carolina Miranda, an LA Times visual arts columnist and blogger, linked to an annotation of a NY Times by Conrad De Aenlle, 'Los Angeles Art Scene Comes Into Its Own'.
Before I downloaded the plug-in, the annotated article looked like this:
(You can see this version of the page here.) After downloading, it looked like this:
Now, most of Miranda's annotations are West Coast - East Coast snark (for example, First quote goes to guy who doesn’t live in L.A. and works for a European art fair company that operates in Miami.) But I'm quite fascinated by the tool nonetheless.
On one level, it allows for semi-private unpicking, criticism or ridiculing of the content of a web page (I *think* you can annotate and share any page by creating an account and then appending 'genius.it' to any page.) You could imagine, for example, a group of people sharing around an annotated exhibition listing from any public gallery website, any CNZ media release, and EyeContact review.
On the other, it could be a simple and powerful tool for crowd-use of any piece of digital or digitised content, regardless of whether the site the content is hosted on has enabled that themselves. Take the amazing resource that is the digitised copies of Te Ao Hou and imagine all those article and images available for annotation, cross-referencing, and linking into the rest of the web.
I am currently thinking about ways I want to extend the beginnings I made by starting the timeline of feminist art movement in New Zealand on Wikipedia. Annotation and cross-referencing is very much on my mind. I'm looking for a tool (probably Evernote, but I'm open to suggestions) to help me gather and annotate texts and while Genius isn't it (the problem being that most of the text I want to work with isn't already online) it's given me a few inklings ...