You’re a student in ed policy—bright but not a lawyer. How to thread your way through complex Supreme Court decisions that you’re studying?

At the University of South Florida, Prof. Sherman Dorn is using Diigo, a social annotations tool, to guide students through the legalese. His shared notes can tell students what to linger over, or skip; imagine the time they can save on their reading. Diigo, which lets you "collect, share and interact on online information from anywhere," is also in use at other schools. Developers claim a unique mix of features. Check out a video demo.

The e-book angle: Publishers of traditional textbooks aren’t just competing against "free" on the Web. They’re also competing against the Web’s interactivity, which tools such as Diiago can enhance. If ed publishers are smart, they’ll not just ask the IDPF to come up with an annotations standard for .epub—they’ll actually speed up the process and pay the group for the development of a standard. Dorn, editor of Education Policy Analysis Archives, is himself urging that the IDPF standard include annotation.

Also of interest: Sherman Dorn’s discussion of our post mentioning some ways you could monetize interactivity (the TeleBlog of course is hardly the first to think in such terms). Annotation standard would make it easier for this to happen.

Related: Past TeleBlog item on VitalSource BookShelf, which allows interactivity. New York University’s dental school is already using VitalSource. Imagine the possibility of interactivity not just among current students and professors but also dental school grads—talking about actual real-life cases, beyond teaching-clinic situations. If the grad angle isn’t happening already, I suspect  it will be in time. Same concept could apply to many other fields such as law.


  1. As I mentioned in my recent article, Digital Editions uses an XML file to store bookmark and annotation information. This might be a good basis from which the IDPF could build such capabilities into the epub standard. Using XML would make the information easily available to other e-readers and other programs — and even share it if you like. Standards like XML are good :-)

  2. After delving into the DTBook specification, I see that annotations and highlighting are covered by that specification: http://www.niso.org/standards/resources/Z39-86-2005.html#Bkmk

    This is a different method than Adobe is using in Digital Editions. I know that the DTBook schema is included in the epub specification as far as content is concerned, but I’m not sure if this method of handling annotations is also included. Would anyone who knows for sure like to comment?

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