Hypothes.is: A Kickstarter Project To Peer Review The Web

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The Web: never before has there been a medium where it was so easy to find so much information. And never before has so much of it been so wrong. Somebody needs to fact-check the Internet. But who? Dan Whaley thinks it should be you.

Whaley, who founded the first travel website (GetThere) in 1995, is behind a Kickstarter project called Hypothes.is. With Hypothes.is, Whalen wants to tackle the problem of rampant misinformation by combining Web annotation technology with a reputation system and peer moderation. The project has raised $60,000 so far, and needs $100,000 by November 13th to get off the ground. (He explains the concept in the video below).

He proposes that Hypothes.is will work as a browser plug-in for Firefox, IE, and Chrome. It will add an overlay to Web pages with a heatmap along the side showing where people left comments. He wants to bring the best comments up from the bottom of most Web pages. People in the system with the highest reputations can up-vote the best comments and down-vote the worst ones. It’s like Quora or StackOverflow applied to the entire Web.

Web annotation services never seem to take hold (see Third Voice, Reframe It, Diigo, etc). But if you could actually add a layer of comments that revealed better information than on the underlying page, it might have some appeal.

To get past the cold start problem, Hypothe.is will let annotators and bloggers link directly to their comments, which won’t require the plug-in for people to see it (instead they will frame the page, which as its own issues). The project will be open-source and the Internet Archive will store a copy of all the comments. There will also be an open API in case developers want to come up with a better UI.