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Computer Science Department

“A Web Application for Academic Text Annotation”

Stephen McMurtry

I will design and implement a web-based application for the purpose of annotating and hyperlinking academic documents.  The web application will be called “scribbled.in,” a hip name that alludes to both the clean layouts of the modern web and the ancient tradition of marginalia in books.  Scribbled.in will allow users to create their own annotations for academic texts, breaking the stranglehold that traditional publishing houses have on the academic market.  Furthermore, users will be able to view the annotations of other users, thus promoting a collaborative environment between users that will lead to an increase in academic knowledge.  The hyperlinking aspect of the web app will further add value to the user.  Rather than dealing with footnotes and endnotes, users will create references to other relevant academic texts by means of a hyperlink.  A direct inspiration for this system is Vannevar Bush’s memex machine, which sought to comment, connect, and catalog human knowledge.
The web application will only be accessible with a registered account; one can be created by providing a username and password.  Documents will be displayed in a page view similar to PDF documents.  Should a user wish to annotate text, said user need only to highlight the desired text and add an annotation: hyperlinks and marginalia can be included in this text block.  Annotations can be saved, edited, and deleted.  The annotations will appear on the margins of the page surrounding the document.