About this project
11/13/2011 - THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED US HIT 100k AS OF 2am PT THIS MORNING! A FEW HOURS LEFT TO GO. SUNIL WILL STILL MATCH ALL GIFTS THROUGH THIS EVENING!
11/9/2011 - Big News: SUNIL PAUL HAS GENEROUSLY OFFERED TO MATCH ALL DONATIONS MADE VIA KICKSTARTER - THIS MATCH DOUBLES THE IMPACT OF ALL GIFTS MADE SO FAR AND ALL GIFTS MADE THROUGH SUNDAY EVENING 11/13!
THANKS FOR ALL YOUR INCREDIBLE SUPPORT SO FAR! THE KINDNESS OF OLD & NEW FRIENDS HAS BEEN AMAZING!
Why are people helping us get started? Quotes from our donors:
Our website has more details: http://Hypothes.is
Solving the World’s Biggest Challenge.
Frustrated by the media? Disillusioned by our seeming inability to come to grips with difficult issues? Us too. We think improving the credibility of the information we encounter is key to solving this problem. In fact, we think it's humanity’s biggest challenge.
If as we encountered new information, in text or video, we could easily know the best analysis and insight on it—sentence by sentence, passage by passage.
What if we had confidence that this analysis truly represented the combined wisdom of the most informed individuals in those domains—not as dictated by a top-down hierarchy, but as measured objectively, statistically and transparently over time.
And what if the knowledge of that capability created a powerful incentive for authors to take extra care that their work met a high standard of excellence.
What if it became more difficult to publish information that was factually incorrect?
These goals are achievable with today’s technologies. Realizing them is the objective of Hypothes.is, a non-profit, open-source project led by Dan Whaley, the entrepreneur and coder who launched the online travel industry in 1995. It is advised by some of the leading minds in Internet technologies, rhetoric and language, reputation, identity and distributed systems. The Internet Archive (archive.org) has agreed to ensure long term storage of user content.
Exactly what is it?
Hypothes.is will be a distributed, open-source platform for the collaborative evaluation of information. It will enable sentence-level critique of written words combined with a sophisticated yet easy-to-use model of community peer-review. It will work wherever you are—as an overlay on top of news, blogs, scientific articles, books, terms of service, ballot initiatives, legislation and regulations, software code and more—without requiring participation of the underlying site.
It is based on a new draft standard for annotating digital documents currently being developed by the Open Annotation Collaboration, a consortium that includes the Internet Archive, NISO, O’Reilly Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and a number of academic institutions.
The project until now has been self-funded, but in order to deliver a working prototype, we need to bring in funding to feed our developers and cover basic administrative costs. $100,000 will allow us to get started.
Every dollar helps! Since we plan to crowdsource peer-review in an open and transparent way, it only makes sense that we use Kickstarter to crowdsource our initial funding..
Hypothes.is is a non-profit effort. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible and may also qualify for matching funds from your employer if they support such a program for charitable contributions. While we file for our own non-profit status, which can take 6-9 months, we have teamed up with a well-known 501.c3 fiscal sponsor, Planetwork (they helped fund early work around OpenID and other standards). For any contributions you make you will receive a letter from Planetwork/Hypothes.is verifying that your contribution qualifies as tax-deductible.
We are in the middle of the design phase now and will begin coding after the successful completion of the Kickstarter project. We expect to deliver a prototype in early 2012 and will keep our launch community in the loop with a quarterly email newsletter.
How you can help:
1. Back us!
Please make a donation through Kickstarter by clicking the green button above. It's easy. You need to have both a Kickstarter account, which you can create easily, and an Amazon.com account-- which most folks have already. (Amazon Payments handles the backend credit card processing for Kickstarter.)
If you have any challenges, or need an alternate way to contribute, email us at email@example.com.
2. Reserve your username / handle now:
Reserve the username / handle of your choice, and let us know how we can periodically update you on the status of our project.
3. Spread the word:
Post to Facebook, Twitter, send emails to friends, wear the t-shirt. Visit http://hypothes.is for information on how you can spread the word!
4. Got skills? Have energy? Join us!
If you are a world-class coder or designer, or just think your particular skills might be helpful to us, we’d love to talk to you. Drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
How Kickstarter Works
Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing model; if we don’t reach our goal by the end of the fundraiser, your account will not be charged.
To pledge to a project, just click the green “Back This Project” button on this page. You will be asked to input your pledge amount and select a reward. From there, you will go through the Amazon checkout process. Note that you must finish the Amazon checkout process for your pledge to be recorded. Again, some people run into trouble completing their donation-- please visit us at http://hypothes.is for detailed Kickstarter donation support.
Here’s a link to the Kickstarter Frequently Asked Questions
No one has yet made an effective attempt to leverage the strengths of the Internet to improve the quality of information we consume, at the place that we consume it. In essence, we are bringing crowd-sourced peer-review to the event horizon where information is produced—the thousands of news sites and blogs on the Internet. To encourage quality, we will employ a reputation framework.
We’ve closely researched over 20 current and previous online projects such as ReframeIt, SpinSpotter, ThirdVoice, Stickis, Fleck, ShiftSpace, WebClipper, zBubbles, and others – as well as offline efforts such as FAIR and Media Matters. All have key conceptual flaws which ultimately are or were fatal limitations on their effectiveness and scalability. Hypothes.is is a direct result of our conclusion that previous efforts have missed the essential ingredients of success, and has been designed to address each of them.
Do you really think that people have the disposition, patience or qualifications to participate in this way?
Yes, we do. Think of Wikipedia. Most of us have never edited a single Wikipedia entry yet we read tens or even hundreds of them a month. 1% is the number frequently quoted as the ratio between contributors and consumers in that community. Frankly, we’re surprised it’s that high, and we think we can easily survive on that ratio. Also, using Hypothes.is will be substantially easier than editing a Wikipedia page, so we expect (but don’t need) participation from a higher percentage of readers than other tools.
If what is published is immediately fact and logic-checked, in a detailed and highly visible way, it will necessarily put pressure upstream to the point of authorship. In order to accomplish this we need better feedback mechanisms. Standard comments just aren’t up to the task, and neither are newer systems such as Disqus, IntenseDebate, Facebook Comments or others. While interesting, none of them fundamentally change the comment model. It’s time for a new set of tools.
We don’t expect perfection. Human affairs are a messy business. We do think things can be substantially improved.
Yes, we are certain they will. It’s part of human nature. In fact, the more effective the system, the more sophisticated we expect the attempts to game it will be. Minimizing and monitoring for gaming over the long-term are primary design considerations. Reputation in distributed systems is a mature field of study. Algorithms and social approaches to maximize trust even where little is initially known about participants and their contributions are numerous and diverse. Some of the world’s experts in this field are among the team members and advisors.
We don’t expect or need sites to enable this functionality. The system will use a range of interfaces, including a browser plug-in, URL shorteners, a destination site and other approaches to wrap existing web content with our toolkit. In the future, mobile apps will also be developed for iphone, ipad and android devices.
They won’t be required to download the plug-in. We’ll offer the capability through multiple interfaces. Most users will be able to experience Hypothes.is completely just by following a link. The plug-in will enable a richer set of functionality for editors--and, keep in mind, with newer browser versions, installing plug-ins has become as fast and easy as clicking a link—usually no restart of the browser is even required. People download apps for their smart phones every day, we think getting people to install a plug-in to their browser is a function of messaging and creating the right value proposition.
Doesn’t this require the contribution of a large number of people to succeed? How do you create that at the outset?
Any community-based service faces a "cold start" problem at launch. Ebay, Craigslist, Yelp, http://Match.com and many others initially faced the same catch-22: the utility of the service requires a certain scale. Here are three approaches we propose to solve this problem—the first is to provide a compelling initial value that doesn’t depend on community, a second is to engage pools of domain experts that are willing to help jump start quality analysis, and the third is to drive sufficient traffic to create critical mass. We have considerable expertise in these areas and will pursue these strategies as well as others in order to get the job done.
Hypothes.is stemmed from a desire for better information on subjects in which we were just as uninformed as most others. While political news and opinion are potentially areas of focus for some, we expect that most of its utility will come from a much broader set of interactions.
We don’t pledge allegiance to a political party, nor are we advocates for a particular political philosophy. Rather, like most of you, we are unique and diverse in our perspectives. Hypothes.is is about enabling a robust dialog and analysis on a wide variety of subjects across many kinds of information sources.
Many have observed over the last few centuries that it is difficult to preserve journalistic objectivity over a long time period as a commercial enterprise. As serial entrepreneurs, we are particularly well aware of the pressures on high-tech commercial enterprises to generate profits for investors—and the difficulty, or impossibility, of preserving the original goals of a project under these expectations. As a result, we think Hypothes.is is best-suited to fulfill its mission as a non-profit social enterprise, to ensure the long-term focus on its founding mission. We will employ a mix of best of class practices from this evolving class of enterprises to ensure long term revenue growth and sustainability.
A thesis is the foundation upon which any persuasive argument rests—namely, that which you seek to prove. It is the first thing you should start with when writing, and the first thing you should look for when reading. A hypothesis is a thesis in the form of a proposed explanation for some observable phenomenon. It embodies two key characteristics essential to the discovery of new knowledge—curiosity and humility. Stated another way, a hypothesis is a provisional idea whose merit requires evaluation.
The hypothesis of this project is that people can collaborate together, without top-down intervention, to arrive over time at trustworthy information. The truth is a messy thing, and we harbor no illusions that we can somehow corner this most intimate of human constructs. However, even marginal improvements on the status quo would be revolutionary.
You might have noticed the odd '.is' at the end of our name. It’s the two letter internet code for the nation of Iceland. And, yes, we’ve used this as a handy way to spell the word “Hypothesis” (a technique known as “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_hack”).
We also think the Icelandic people are great representatives of the kind of thinking we’re trying to nurture. In 2010, Iceland’s parliament passed the forward-looking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_Modern_Media_Initiative, creating a process through which 13 separate laws will be edited with the aim of establishing strong protections for the freedom of information, speech and expression. The protections contemplated would be among the most advanced in the world. Also, Iceland has recently undertaken the process of http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/14/in-iceland-constitutions-are-written-on-facebook/. We approve!
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