Copy' Newsletter: The Margin #1
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Hello David,

We are excited to bring you our first newsletter, The Margin. We’ll be sending these out with a bit more regularity moving forward. You are receiving it because you’re a registered user of Hypothesis, or one of our friends, colleagues or supporters. If you’d rather not receive future announcements of features and initiatives you can unsubscribe at the bottom.

In the past six months we have doubled our staff, released a ton of new features, including our most requested one, Groups, and ramped up focused initiatives in education, biosciences and scholarly communication.

Annotating All Knowledge

Our mission is to bring a powerful conversational and computational layer to all knowledge, based on open source software and open standards.

On Tuesday, we announced a major new initiative to bring this vision to reality, supported by a coalition of over 40 of the world’s essential scholarly organizations, such as JSTOR, PLOS, arXiv, HathiTrust, Wiley and HighWire Press, who are linking arms to establish a new paradigm of open collaborative annotation across the world’s knowledge.

More information about this initiative and the coalition members is available here, including a video with interviews of key members. Nature News covered it here and we also blogged about what led to the formation of this coalition. Here is the reaction that it generated.

Over the last year, we've already seen integration in a number of scholarly publishing platforms and portals, such as with USC Scalar, and Ubiquity Press. University of Michigan Press has been using Hypothesis for both pre- and post-publication discussion of texts, including this ”annotation event” around the publication of James Brown’s Ethical Programs: Hospitality and the Rhetorics of Software.

Thanks to both the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their significant support which has made this work possible.


Our most frequent request by far was the ability to collaborate with others privately on pages that are otherwise public. Now you can!  For instance, you can create a named group, like “English 223,” with a private URL that you can use to invite others to annotate with you. Private groups work on any page Hypothesis works on, so your group conversations can stretch across any number of HTML or PDF pages.

There’s more information at Jon’s blog post here, or Jeremy’s post on using groups for classrooms.

Annotating in the classroom

I love that allows my students to contribute to the conversation whether they are frequent class participants or the type that like to sit back and think before responding. I can’t call on every student but by annotating together we can all join in the conversation.
-  Sarah Gross, English Teacher, High Technology High School (New Jersey)

Far too often when I am reading a challenging text for class I can’t stop dwelling on these questions: “Does anyone actually understand this? Am I crazy for thinking this means ___?”...I like to think of as a literary Facebook as my classmates and I not only comment our own thoughts but also reply to each others.
-  Shannon Griffiths, Plymouth State University (New Hampshire) from her blog post.

In our first academic semester with a focused education initiative, we have dozens of classes actively using Hypothesis as part of their curriculum. The classrooms span many disciplines (English, history, anthropology, classics, political science, health, biology) and include students in both secondary and higher education. As an example student work, check out Robin DeRosa’s students at Plymouth State annotations on her open anthology of early American literature.

We’ve also partnered with other organizations to make annotation a native part of new educational resources. In partnership with the Poetry Foundation, JSTOR Labs built a prototype for an annotation tool based on Hypothesis that is focused on educational use of their Poetry magazine archive. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is using Hypothesis to populate select Science articles with helpful commentary by graduate students for use in undergraduate classrooms.

Our education program has already been the subject of some academic buzz in the education press. Scholars and librarians have written about the use of Hypothesis in the classroom for both Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education. A high school teacher, Chris Sloan, has written about Hypothesis as a tool for the secondary classroom in Literacy Daily. And our own Jeremy Dean co-wrote a blog for the New York Times Learning Network on the educational value of web annotation.

If you are interested in using Hypothesis in the classroom, check out our education portal where we have tutorials, lesson plans, and other resources for teachers and students. Feel free to reach out to Jeremy (at at any point if you have questions or ideas.

Bioscience Update

Hypothesis is launching a program in biosciences through generous support from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.  Dr. Maryann Martone, Director of Biosciences, is leading the integration of a lightweight, open and interactive knowledge layer across biomedicine.  

Some upcoming highlights:

  • We are working with ORCID to incorporate author ID’s into annotations.
  • Hypothesis is working with the Neuroscience Information Framework (NIF) to improve identifiability of research resources in the literature as part of the Resource Identification Initiative.
  • Hypothesis shared a booth with NIF at the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago in October, encouraging neuroscientists to explore the current Hypothesis tool for post-publication discussion over articles, improving neuroscience on the web by annotating news or Wikipedia articles.  There is a lot of enthusiasm for open annotation in the neuroscience community!
  • We are exploring the use of Hypothesis for biomedical data by working with partners in the neuroimaging community.
  • Welcome Gigascience!  Gigascience has incorporated Hypothesis into their data repository, GigaDB, in support of data sharing. highlights a powerful use case

We’re delighted to see communities making powerful use of annotation. One in particular is, where participating scientists review influential media articles on climate change, commenting on the accuracy of articles, support science-based claims, and highlighting inaccuracies and misrepresentations. They also provide an overall assessment of the article’s ‘scientific credibility’, posted as an annotation at the top of the article.  Climate Feedback helps readers identify where and why the coverage is consistent (or inconsistent) with the latest science and identify sources of information they can trust, while incentivizing authors and publishers to increased scientific accuracy.

Noted articles that scientists have already annotated include Vox, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and Pope Francis’ Encyclical. This process of annotated critique has already had an impact: In July, The Telegraph issued a major correction of an article announcing an ‘imminent ice age’ after Climate Feedback scientists pointed to inaccuracies in the article. Until now scientists have had few ways of making their voices heard. Now with web annotations, an important new channel of communication is available for scientists to organize and engage online.


The end of 2015 is almost upon us, and we'd like to share the traction we're getting. At present we have over 23,000 users, and are on track for 250,000 annotations made in 2015. Our chart of annotations per month looks like this.

New hires

Hypothesis continues to grow and is excited to announce several additions to its core team.

Engineering & Software Development new hires include Conor Delahunty, Designer; Lena Gunn, Engineering Manager; Sean Hammond, Robert Knight and Alice Wyan, Software Engineers; and Jon Udell, Product Manager. Drs. Jeremy Dean and Maryann Martone have joined Hypothesis to expand programs for our Education, Biosciences, and Scholarly Communications verticals, and Peg Fowler brings operational and administrative support to the team.  You can learn more about us on our website at


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 at 

Our Sponsors

We'd like to express our gratitude for our two major partners not mentioned above, the Shuttleworth Foundation and the Knight Foundation.  Their support, along with that of the Sloan and Mellon Foundations, and the Helmsley Charitable Trust already mentioned have made this work possible-- and they have our most profound gratitude. We'd also like to thank our over 700 Kickstarter Donors (we're still planning that launch party!) and particularly Sunil Paul who matched everything we raised on Kickstarter! Finally, Jeff Brody has contributed substantially to our Open Annotation Fund. Thanks Jeff!

Your Support

The most important support you can offer us is to let others know about Hypothesis. Our most powerful advertising is the word-of-mouth support that our passionate users and followers provide in the form of blog posts, tweets and introductions to those that they think can make use of what we do. If everyone reading this email introduced Hypothesis to one more person, our user base would double.

Your contributions also support what we do. Hypothesis is a US 501.c3 non-profit organization.  While our long term objective is financial sustainability through commercial revenues, we rely on grant support and community donations to get started. Please consider making a small contribution of $5, $10 or $25!


Not registered yet?  If you’d like to try out web annotation, you can create an account and get started at

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