Clipper at OER17: You, Me, Them, Everybody

We are giving a presentation at the OER17  open education conference which is running on the 5&6 April this year. The presentation is about web annotation in general, using Clipper as an example. We shall be examining the potential of web annotation technology to support open education activities and some of the implications of this technology for ‘traditional’ notions of education and academic authorship. The conference theme is ‘Politics’ in relation to open education, so its timely in this supposedly ‘post truth’ age that we shall be covering the potential for using these tools for fact checking. You can see the abstract below for more information about our presentation – it draws on our own experiences at the I-Annotate conference last year where we encountered investigative journalists using these tools:

OER17 Web Site

OER17 Clipper Presentation Abstract

You, Me, Them, Everybody: OERs and the politics of web annotation

An update from the Clipper web annotation project that has been producing a toolkit for research data management of time-based media. This session describes the rapidly developing field of web annotation tools and standards, which is moving rapidly moving beyond the current feature set of social media. What is developing are more powerful ways of interacting with web content and other web users. These tools bring some great opportunities for open education and research. In education the use case is especially compelling: students have been writing in their books since the book was invented; and as books and other texts studied in schools and college migrate online, these marginal notes can become media-rich and shared with others. In face-to-face, online, and blended classrooms, collaborative annotation combines traditional literacy with more emergent understandings of the types of skills students need to develop to be successful in learning and life*.

But this also raise some questions about how these tools will affect individuals and institutions. This session will discuss the potential impact on our existing practice with OERs, as well as some of the wider socio-economic implications for the traditional role of the academic author, copyright, reputation and ownership. Web annotation (by design) can circumvent decisions that content owners have made about whether they want commenting in the first place. Given that web annotation has the potential to reach a large portion of the content on the web and its users, it’s important to consider these things now. Important in this context, is to consider how to prevent such tools being misused and how to design tools, systems and policies that can encourage openness and transparency and help reduce misuse.

The presentation will offer an overview of how web annotation tools are already being used in research, education, investigative journalism and the social web. We will illustrate this with use cases from our own project experience of working with researchers and their data in bio science at the University of Edinburgh. We compare this to our encounter with investigative journalists at the I Annotate 16 conference in Berlin in May 2016. Both groups have surprisingly similar requirements, operate in highly competitive environments and can see similar opportunities and risks that are nicely summarised in this summary:


“This is where annotations can become the message stream environment around source documents and data. There are other tech challenges such as data security during the research process and after publication, especially when involving larger groups of users with different tech capabilities. Both source documents and annotations need a secure infrastructure, given the sensitive aspect of the investigative process (sources and story need to be protected).“

Annotating Investigative Journalism – I Annotate 2016*

* I Annotate 2016

The title of this presentation is taken from the film ‘The Blues Brothers’ in the introduction to the song ‘Everybody Needs Somebody to Love’ (Burke, Berns & Wrexler).