Highlight and annotate articles online with Hypothesis

In our age of reading everything online, do you ever miss reading in print? Here’s a solution.

I absolutely love the Chrome plugin, “Hypothesis”. It allows you to highlight and annotate webpages.

The days of annotating in print

Years ago if an article was longer than a page, I would print the article to read. This was a great method for engaging with the writing, because I was able to underline passages, and immediately work out thoughts in the margins.

Sometimes the thoughts would be directly connected to the article. Other times, my thoughts would meander off into other interesting areas. Both situations are great, because they are generating thought.

The paper format gave me a ready stack of articles to always read in lunch breaks and train rides. If the article didn’t generate any side-notes, I would simply tear the top of the paper to indicate that I can eventually recycle the paper.

The paper gave me a method of both having a ready stack of articles to read, but more importantly to have a way of engaging with the text.

The days of reading online, how to annotate?

Now that I work from home, I rarely print articles anymore. When I read online, it’s just skimming through, then I normally forget the article. Nothing branched off. Nothing generated.

With Hypothesis, I can highlight the text as I read it. And I can type out side annotations next to my highlight.

I’ve used Hypothesis on and off for the past few years. It’s always a pleasure to use the plugin, but I never really delved deeply into the annotation feature. Most times I highlight a passage, and then move on.

I really miss that part of where I would consume the text, mull over the text, and think about how it applies to me. Asking myself, “why am I reacting to this text? What does this make me think?”

Annotating online helps you to write more

Today I made a conscious effort to just put my thoughts into the little annotation box. Just to keep typing. Thinking that nobody else will see my thoughts. Just type.

And it worked. Ends up, my side notes became three separate blog posts in my online notepad on spudart.org:

All based on one article, “Marmora and Giddings“. Granted, the article is really fascinating, so it was just overflowing with concepts to consider.

Annotating online helps you connect with writers

This also gave me the chance to leave some longer-form comments on the article for the author.

As an author myself, I know how much I incredibly value people’s feedback. To know someone is reading, and that they actually have a response. Man, that is really one of the greatest things in life. I’m thankful for online pages where you can immediately respond to someone’s writing.

Your annotations and highlights are preserved

If you go back to the original article, you’ll see your highlights on the page!

I can see this being helpful in areas where I use resources like Bible commentaries. I might come back to a particular Bible verse years later, and see my previous highlights and notes.

Even if the article is taken offline, you’ll still have the text from your highlights, and the text from your notes. In fact, Chris Aldrich as found a way of exporting your Hypothesis highlights and notes.

Let’s annotate!

Now I’m going to make a more considered effort to use this Hypothesis plugin to write more of my reaction thoughts from articles. If you join Hypothesis, let me know. I’m user mattmaldre.

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