What is Annotote?
Annotote is a productivity app with three core features: summarization, annotation, and the network. To illustrate how it works, pretend there’s a New York Times article you want to read online…
First off, if you don’t want to spend time reading the whole article, Annotote automatically provides a summary so you can get straight to the point.
Second, the annotation feature lets you highlight and take notes on the article. Annotote saves these annotations for you, so you have them for future reference and can share them with friends, family, and colleagues.
Finally, there’s the network, which lets you follow other users — like your friends or even thought leaders — so you can see what they’re reading, along with their highlights and notes.
The app is organized in three separate streams: Me, Follows, and Top. The Me Stream is your personal library, storing all the text, images, audio, and videos you've annotated. The Follows Stream shows all the public annotations by users you've chosen to follow. Lastly, the Top Stream finds content for you to enjoy based upon your interests, and of course everything is already summarized for you!
Annotote works with any type of media — not just articles, but audio and video too. When you browse through any media on the app, it's already highlighted for you, so you can enjoy a short summary instead of wasting time with all the fluff. You can seamlessly annotate anything for yourself too. Or, at the tap of a button, you can see the notes and highlights left behind by someone you follow.
The idea is that you shouldn’t waste everything you read, watch, or listen to -- and you definitely shouldn't waste your time. Annotote saves the content worth keeping, and it saves you a ton of time!
It's an elegant solution -- one man's highlights are another man's summary -- which enables powerful facilitation of your entire digital consumer experience -- from content discovery to consumption to retention to sharing.
What's the problem?
The process of enjoying good content is way harder than it should be, with unnecessary frictions making it needlessly time-consuming to find, finish, retain, or apply the media that's actually valuable to each of us.
So, we improvise to cope: our attention span is down to 8.25 seconds; 81% of us skim everything we read; we only finish 9% of the content that we start; then, we forget 90% of that knowledge within a few days!
Suffice to say, the media product in the marketplace today doesn't meet consumers' wants and needs.
Throughout history, the media business was predicated on scarcity. There were huge barriers to entry, like expensive printing presses and distribution infrastructure. So, if you could afford the startup costs of a newspaper business, your reward was an effective monopoly: one newspaper and hundreds-of-thousands of subscribers.
Accordingly, when the product was scarce, the balance-of-power always lay in the hands of producers. However, today, the internet has eliminated the barriers to entry, and now anyone can produce and distribute content. In this age of abundance, the balance-of-power has shifted to consumers.
Yet, content consumers still have to waste way too much of their time to get way too little value out of their experience. Innovations like blogging and social media have improved how content is produced, but nothing has made it easier or better to consume.
Why this solution?
When I read, I add highlights and notes to distinguish what’s important from what’s not. It turns out that a lot of other people do the same thing too: 80% of us highlight content; 55% of us comment; and 78% of us read those comments.
Those are fantastic means of retaining the value in content -- for memory or future reference. When you think of all those consumers out there doing all of this, you realize that the way we read, watch, and listen to media is really inefficient, because our efforts are all redundant.
If you want to watch a 60-minute video, there’s no way to finish it in less than 60-minutes. So, millions of people spend all that time watching the same lecture on YouTube. Think of all the redundant the man-hours invested in that one video!
Annotote gives those consumers a way to annotate that lecture -- saving the most valuable quotes and notes. By crowdsourcing contributors' annotations, Annotote forms a consensus as to what the highlights of that lecture are, reducing the full 60-minutes into a 2-minute summary, for example.
This is the same way Wikipedia maintains collaborative articles and Yelp crowdsources business ratings: Annotote harnesses the annotations that people are already compelled to make on all sorts of content, then distills them into a short summary for everyone to enjoy. That perfect complement facilitates an otherwise inefficient digital consumer experience.
Annotote finds the right content for you to enjoy; it provides a personalized summary of that content to help your consumption; it lets you annotate it to improve your retention; and it lets you follow other users to share in the knowledge.
Annotote is a single destination for all of your media wants and needs. Want to enjoy good content? Annotote is where you go for all the signal with none of the noise. Want to save valuable insights? Annotote is where you go to leave your mark.
I'm a digital content power user. For business, I consume a lot of media, which my team has to synthesize for collaborative research. I also read a lot in my personal life -- for both intellectual curiosity and pure entertainment -- and like everyone else, I share the good stuff with friends and family.
would I regularly burn-out from the overload, but the more content I
used to compile, the more the experience felt like a leaky bucket: all of that knowledge I'd spent time curating couldn't be efficiently retained, searched, or shared with my network, so it would just trickle away.
It bothered me so much that I hacked-together a way for me to annotate any type of media, from any source, and I made my notes available to my colleagues. Eventually, those colleagues started annotating their own content, each creating an open digest that we all gravitated toward.
This was such a simple solution, but it had such a significant impact on our aggregate productivity. We suddenly had this treasure trove of research that was all signal, no noise. Furthermore, the network effects were palpable: as each incremental annotator joined the project, many more digests became available to everyone. Linear user growth drove exponential decay in everyone's time spent finding, finishing, recalling, and manually sharing knowledge.
That's why I'm here now, developing a user experience that accelerates this positive feedback loop for Annotote's growing community.
Use of funds
1/ Development ($7,000):
The goal of this Kickstarter campaign is to develop and release Annotote's Private Beta. A prototype has already been tested by friends and family, so this campaign will build atop that foundation, adding the remaining core functionality.
The preexisting prototype is limited to text annotation. Therefore, this development phase will add social ("Follows") and crowdsourcing ("Top") features. Annotation capabilities will remain limited to text content... unless you, my backers, help me surpass my Stretch Goals (see below)!
I'm outsourcing this project to a freelancer via Upwork, where I've already accepted a proposal from a US-based, full-stack developer who's standing by. The contract stipulates a flat fee for the development of this Private Beta, which is expected to be completed within 12 weeks. (If you're unfamiliar with the Upwork platform, feel free to check it out: https://www.upwork.com/i/trust-safety-mission/)
2/ Servers ($1,000):
Our prototype is already deployed on AWS, so this is an estimate based-on scaling our current run-rate.
3/ Ongoing maintenance ($1,000):
Reserves for the developer to fix subsequent bugs, errors, etc.
4/ Fees ($1,000):
Includes Kickstarter's 5% fee plus a maximum 5% payment processing charge.
5/ Stretch Goal #1 ($15,000+ pledged):
Right now, Annotote's eligible content is URL-based. If we surpass this first milestone, we'll add additional capabilities for importing documents like PDFs.
6/ Stretch Goal #2 ($20,000+ pledged):
Right now, Annotote's functionality is limited to the in-app experience, but if we surpass this second milestone, we'll add features that allow you to use Annotote's functionality anywhere on the web -- on top of prior Stretch Goals. Hint: it's not a plugin or browser extenstion ;)
7/ Stretch Goal #3 ($30,000 pledged):
We plan to limit this Private Beta to text annotation only, but if we surpass this third milestone, we'll add capabilities for audio annotation too -- on top of prior Stretch Goals.