What is social annotation?

If you’re familiar with Genius, the digital platform that allows you to annotate and interpret the lyrics of songs, you know what social annotation is already.

If not, it’s simple. Social annotation is the collective annotation or addition of notes to texts in order to interpret, illuminate, comment on, respond to, or inquire about anything from punctuation or a word to a whole paragraph. 

Anyone who has ever annotated the margins of a text and shared it with someone else or who has bought a second-hand copy of a book and felt spoken to by a stranger’s annotation has participated in social annotation. 

Our project follows Remi Kalir and Antero Garcia’s definition of annotation as a genre or specific form of writing where our “acts of reading are bound together with acts of writing” (xiii). Like the authors, we believe in the power of annotation to create conversation, debate, and inquiry (93). 

Our project is inspired in part by the work of Prof. William Christmas (SFSU) and his students on their “Annotating Austen” course site.  

Works Cited

García, Antero, Kalir, Remi. Annotation. Massachusetts: MIT, 2021.


We wish to thank Dr. Danielle Spratt (CSU, Northridge) for her helpful suggestions.