The more I read about hypothes.is the more I realise how on to it you all are and the keener I am to help.
Given my non-technical background I wrote my initial thoughts and then G asked me to consider why people would want to use Hypothes.is.
I have drawn out some implications for those who are developing the software. You are probably on top of them already. They are summarised at the end of this paper.
We can understand users of Hypothesis by splitting them into four nested sets.
The first set is those people who are just dipping into Hypothes.is, considering installing it or using it for the first time. I have called these Dippers.
The second set contains regular Readers who will just read annotations and seldom or never add them themselves. Judging by the situation on traditional websites and forums this will be by far the largest set.
The third set contains the Authors of annotations. They also read annotations but participate mainly to write.
The fourth set contains Readers and Authors who interact with other users by writing or responding to replies.
Outside these sets are the potential Hypothes.is users who have not yet installed Hypothes.is.
Dippers will be drawn to Hypothes.is by curiosity or mandate. It is important that on first glance they find it an interesting, helpful and engaging experience or they will drop out with a negative impression and it will be hard to win them back.
Curiosity is the most likely reason people will first look at Hypothes.is.
They may be curious about
A web page
A particular annotation
Implications of raising curiosity levels
Hypothes.is needs to feed curiosity not only by promoting itself but encouraging and giving website owners, authors and groups opportunities to self-promote whilst at the same time promoting Hypothes.is.
For example :
Pre-installed on browsers
website owners could promote Hypothes.is so that people could read annotations on their sites,
authors and groups could have a stream of their annotations on their own blogs,
A share button could share an annotation through social media.
Hypothes.is needs to nurture these curious Dippers to ensure they keep coming back once the initial curiosity fades.
Implications of engaging curious Dippers.
Hypothes.is needs to give curious Dippers an easy and engaging experience. This could be helped by:
Having options to leave hypothes.is switched permanently on or on until browser is closed.
Having flexible settings they can fiddle with and change later until they get settings that best suit them, such as:
Being able to see all annotations grouped chronologically, by language or by their own geographic location
Being able to set their options so that authors or groups that they are following appear at the top of their annotation list in the Hypothes.is sidebar.
Being able to block or filter out individuals or groups whose annotations or replies they do not want to see
hierarchy of colour signals on the Hypothes.is icon which give them
information on if there are any annotations on the webpage, for
Being able to easily read the annotation list and the annotations.
Being able to follow a stream of their own, an author’s or a group’s annotations, independent of the websites they are on.
Being able to follow someone else’s public activity on Hypothes.is such as annotations they have made, annotations they recommend and annotations they have shared.
Being able to share on social media an annotation, an author’s stream or a group’s stream.
Being able to recommend/thumbs-up annotations.
Being able to keep a record of selected annotations that they have read.
People might read Hypothes.is annotations because it has been mandated by someone in authority, for example for:
A tutor could put an annotation on a webpage that asks students a question about the webpage with an assignment that the students complete offline.
A tutor could ask a question about a particular webpage offline and ask student to annotate about a particular topic relevant to the course topic.
A tutor could ask students to find a webpage relevant to the course and annotate the page to comment on the relevant component of the page such as its design, content, authenticity etc.
A lead researcher might direct a colleague to find relevant webpages to collate and critique the content on the pages. The annotations could then be shared within the research group.
For example a business competitor might investigate annotations on a webpage to learn from the competitor’s web experience.
Implications of helping mandated Dippers.
Mandated Dippers have to take their first dips into Hypothes.is but it is important to try to convert them into regular users. They will often but not always use private groups in terms of reading and authorship. They will require security of their information both in terms of privacy, permanence, exportability and control .
Privacy seems a crucial issue to me. I am not sure what you guys are thinking but it seems to me a good system might include all users having an individual password and Hypothes.is somehow knowing who has access to what group.
For data security Hypothes.is needs to keep its own backups but also many in education, research or business will want to be able to back up their own data.
People will want to export annotations so that they can organise them. For example a teacher, leader or boss may want to download annotations from a particular assignment and reorganise them into separate files for individual students or gather them together into a single file.
Teachers, leaders, bosses will want to have control of their groups. They will want to control who has membership for writing annotations within the group and may want to add a separate membership for reading only. They will want to be able to drop people from a group if they leave the class or become disruptive.
The above two points, exporting annotations and keeping control of mandated groups, may be easily done in the interim by a share feature and allowing students etc. to share annotations by email to the group leader.
The following comments apply to people who have dipped into Hypothes.is out of curiosity or mandate. We need to encourage new users to make Hypothes.is a regular part of their lives Reading is the likely entry to regular Hypothes.is use. So why will people become regular hypothes.is Readers?
Reasons might include:
To seek additional information about the content of a web page.
To read opinions about a web page.
To share with others an annotation that someone else has written.
To be entertained.
To tread the water before writing their own annotations.
People might use Hypothes.is to seek additional information about a web page for a range of reasons including:
Gathering information for assignments (e.g. school, college, work)
Looking for a different ‘angle’ for Blog posts
Wanting to know different opinions about the website content to help with problem solving
Learning a range of perspectives on a topic for personal understanding.
Checking the accuracy of the information on the webpage
Seeking ideas on where to purchase something mentioned on the webpage
Looking for an independent review of a product mentioned on the webpage
Implications of helping readers who want additional information about the content of web pages.
People who are reading annotations to gather information will want to know that their collection of information is private, permanent and able to be organised.
Even if the annotations are public the collection of information that an individual gathers should be able to be made private.
The collections of information should be securely stored.
The collection of information should be able to be organised in a way that allows overlapping grouping of annotations from a range of websites. For example a Reader may be researching the use of carrot juice for the treatment of cancer but also be researching the best variety of carrots to grow in their locality. Tagging seems an ideal way of doing this but the tags will need to be personal to the individual to make any sense for personal collections. This implies that readers who collect annotations that other people have written will need to be able to put their own tags on the collected annotations.
People like to read the opinions of others. It seems that most people like to read the opinions that agree with their own but some will still be in the process of forming opinions, are willing to have their opinions changed or are willing to follow the ideas of opinion leaders. Readers may want to see opinions from:
Particular groups of people (topic experts, celebrities, republicans, etc.)
Implications of helping Readers who are seeking opinions
People who are interested in reading annotations to get to know what opinions are out there may want to selectively follow particular authors or groups.
People may want to see only particular authors or groups represented on their annotation sidebar.
They may want to follow a stream of annotations from particular authors or groups no matter what websites the annotations are on.
People like to share what they have seen on the internet and this will extend to annotations. Readers will want to share annotations they have read with friends, colleagues, etc.
Implications of helping reader who want to share annotations they have read.
It is important that these readers can easily share an annotation on social media, email or storage with an added comment.
They might want to add their own comments, for example
“Hey dude check out this annotation Bill wrote..Sick.”
“Prof Williams wrote an interesting comment on a recent article on the Bone and Nerves Journal website.”
“We need to avoid this mistake on our website”
Whatever noble ideals Hypothes.is starts out with people will use if for entertainment. They will want to make jokes about, insult, deride and satirise webpages.
Implications for helping readers who want or don’t want to read ‘entertaining’ content.
Hypothes.is will need to accommodate these jokers but also allow more serious readers to filter them out of their sidebar list of annotations.
Hypothes.is will need site specific filtering out of particular individuals or groups. For example someone may be happy to read jokers’ annotations when reading the Daily Mail but want to exclude them when reading the Scientific American.
Hypothes.is will depend for its growth on attracting new Authors and encouraging Readers to become Authors. Consideration should always be given to how to convert readers into authors.
Readers can be encouraged to become Authors by:
Showing that Authors are highly valued by Readers.
Showing that Authors are highly valued by the Hypothes.is group.
Showing that there are personal gains from becoming an Author.
Making it easy to become an Author.
Implications for encouraging readers to become authors
Readers need to be able to see and contribute to the methods that Hypothes.is uses to encourages Authors to author as discussed below.
These are people whose main interest in Hypothes.is is to write annotations. Although there is likely to be far fewer Authors than Readers there needs to be a high level of annotation across the web to keep Readers interested. The task of recruiting and keeping interested lots of useful Authors is crucial to the success of Hypothes.is.
To correct, support or expand factual assertions
To collate information for themselves and others
To create a personal brand
To promote someone or something
To clarify their thoughts
To clear a thought or idea out of their heads
Secondary feel good rewards
Implications for encouraging authors
Authors of annotations need to know they are reaching an audience, being appreciated and achieving their goals.
Interface for authors that makes them feel needed and appreciated. Having their annotations look good with the ability to format annotations, add links and images.
Knowing they reach an audience, being able to see how often an annotation has been read, shared and recommended/up-voted.
Being acknowledged as a worthwhile contributor, being able to see how many people are following them, getting feedback on how many annotations they have written.
Receiving reciprocity from other authors, being invited to join well-respected author groups.
Helping a reputation that spreads outside Hypothes.is by the ability to share annotations and post them elsewhere.
Allowing online interaction whilst controlling personal attacks, bullying and overloading annotations lists with nonsense is a difficult issue but it is no different to behaviour that is already seen on websites, in webpage comments and in forums. It will no doubt be an issue in annotations and replies to annotations.
Implications for encouraging and controlling interactions
Methods need to be in place so that the writers of annotations and replies have a unique identity. I think it should be possible but not easy to have more than one identity as for example, people might want a different persona for work and for play.
Readers need to be able to filter out annotations or replies from particular individuals or groups.
There needs to be a system of reporting annotations or replies which breech acceptable standards of behaviour. These reports could come from human or machine reviews of annotations and replies.
Options to leave hypothes.is switched permanently on or on until the browser is closed.
Flexible settings that users can fiddle with and change later until they get settings that best suit them, such as:
Options to see all annotations grouped chronologically, by language or by their own geographic location
Options to see authors or groups that they are following at the top of their sidebar annotation list
Options to block or filter out individuals or groups whose annotations or replies a user does not want to see
A hierarchy of colour signals
on the Hypothes.is icon which give them information on if there are
any annotations on the webpage, for example:
Easy to read annotation list.
Attractive and easy to read annotations with the possibility of formatting, images and links.
Reputation and profile of Authors represented by their unique user names, the group they are writing as a member of, the number of people following them and how many annotations they have made.
Readers can contribute to reputation of an Author.
Readers can see how often an annotation has been up-voted.
Able to share annotations on social media or by email adding their own comment to it.
Ability to reply to an annotation.
Control of unacceptable annotations and replies. By human and machine reporting of objectionable material.
Being able to save annotations and add tags personal to themselves (perhaps in browser bookmarks).
Make available to Authors:
Ability to have several personas for them to use when annotating for different purposes. This should be without the need to log out and in again.
Number of annotations they have made with congratulatory email when reaching milestone numbers e.g. 50,100,150 etc..
Number of followers they have.
Number of times an annotation has been read and/or shared
Ability to stream their annotations on a website
Notification if there is a reply to an annotation they have made. Ability to block these notifications in total or those of particular individuals.
Ability of groups to be owned so that the owner can invite or delete membership.
Unique names for groups.
Having a choice of group type with the a flexible mix of privileges such as read/write and private/public/link.
Read streams of data from particular authors or groups independent of which webpages they were made on.
Follow someone’s public activity on Hypothe.is e.g. annotations made, what they have read, shared, replied to or recommended.
Notifications if a particular Author or Group has made an annotation.
Notification if an annotation has appeared on a particular page.
Privacy of private annotations
Privacy of Authors’ private details.
No loss of data
Downloading annotations so that individuals and groups can back them up.
Hope some of this was useful.