annotations as visible but passive moderator

Comments and commenting on the internet is great, but a nagging issue at the same time. It’s the missing aspect to journalism, seen as it’s societal glue, voice and protector (the good journalism, that is).

The experiment over at Quartz is interesting. Reframing reader input/feedback, ever so slightly, as annotation. Annotations referring to specifics within a text (written text, but this can be applied to any text such as audio, video or any container or format).

Comments and discussions often derail because there’s a delay in one or many comments – from people who get off topic or express out of bounds ideas (bounds being decided both by the editors’ AND the readers’ norms). Before you know it it’s to late to nudge it back.

Reframing comments as annotations keeps discussions, individual comments, much closer to the intentional piece commented on. Feels like there’s something in that. Sort of local hyperlinks, making the comment and commented very visible and chained together.

Keeping it close to subject is important in discussions. Live discussions are often kept on topic by some moderator.If discussions wander off, it’s dealt with quickly and guided back to topic. Impossible in other situations (even video based discussions are hard, due to both technical noise but not seldom a feeling of “they’re so distant so I’ll go on, the risk isn’t huge”), but it feels like annotations is one that might work well for recorded texts.