I’ve been utilizing various annotation tools on the web for ~8 years, whether it was using Diigo annotations in a group with other social studies teachers, or Skitch in shared Evernote notes with my students, I like to annotate. I like annotating on paper even better, but then tend to deposit annotated articles and documents all over the city, state or country I’m currently living in. I’ve waffled back and forth between Zotero and Paperpile for citation / document management (both have some form of annotation built in – though the Zotfile firefox addon on Zotero is pretty amazing).
All that said, I’m really happy with the way Hypothes.is is different from all of those tools – it’s much more lightweight and easy to use. Stick a web or PDF URL in their proxy – https://via.hypothes.is/ – or download the Chrome App, and you can publicly annotate anything on the web. You can create private groups, or respond to others comments, and in general create an ‘augmented edition’ (Burdick, et al) of any text.
While I tried to get others on board for using this tool during my week of group discussion, it really only took off when our professor had us annotate synchronously in class. I guess it’s one of those ‘why use a new tool when my own way works’ until it’s required. I thought the conversation in that synchronous digital annotation was more tied to the ideas put forth in the readings than other conversations had been – which, while useful for close readings of specific texts, can sometimes take away from the broad expertise available within a group by focusing intently on that specific reading. It does, however, keep conversations focused and relatable for all members of the group, no matter their background. It might have been helpful for folks to link within their comments to the scholars they reference rather than merely using names – in such a networked space as group annotation, it would help to make more connected arguments rather than the traditional citation.