Annotating all knowledge: what it means and why it's important

February 4, 2016 Patrick Johnston

woman with laptop.jpgWhat does “annotating all knowledge” mean for authors and readers of scholarly content? Why is it important for Wiley to participate?

Annotating All Knowledge is a coalition driven by the Project involving over 40 scholarly publishers, platforms, libraries and technology partners.

Scholarly publishing is undergoing a sea change. As governments and institutions strive to make the results of research more and more accessible, the publishing industry is adapting. Open Access was an important step towards authors providing unlimited access to their research, and Wiley has fully embraced this.

In the meantime, the way readers intellectually engage with the substance of what is written has evolved very little, even as the interpretation of what writing is and how it is represented has broadened. There has been much progress in getting machines to understand things on our behalf, but comparatively little in enabling people to understand each other in more meaningful ways.

Social media have given us a plethora of channels through which we can talk about things, allowing thought to spread with efficiency undreamed of even twenty years ago. However, these channels are not designed for depth and analysis. While 'free' in the commercial sense, they silo our interactions in exact opposition to the principles on which the Web was founded, namely the democratization of knowledge.

The idea behind Open Annotation is to restore that balance, and to bring deeper meaning to the way we interact with published content. Building on the very machinery that enables the Web to function, the result is a standard way to enable comments and conversations in context, in a way that is not bound to a specific platform, publisher, or encoding, and in a way that makes it simple and intuitive for people to talk to people and learn from each other, and build vibrant communities that extend human knowledge.

The purpose of the Coalition is to move from definition of a proposed set of standards to their universal adoption and implementation. Wiley is fully committed to making this happen, enabling annotation to reflect the richness of scholarly thought through the content we publish online. Wiley is also committed to evolving the Standard, and to bringing annotation to a number of areas in the publication process, facilitating a richer user experience for our authors and reviewers. Wiley’s many society partners are supporting this effort. Brooks Hanson, Director of Publications at the American Geophysical Union, agrees that “this is another important area where collaboration and support by publishers will accelerate needed technological changes that will help enrich scholarly communication.” Wiley believes this will ultimately benefit everyone involved, including those creating, communicating, reading and using content.

Image source: Cheryl Savan/Shutterstock

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