A Transparency Engine for the World Wide Web

A Transparency Engine for the World Wide Web

Summary: Every so often you come across a web application that is a game changer: the utility of browser plugin reframeit is a hugely powerful adjunct to your use of the entire web.The video above demonstrates marking up the transcript of a political speech with associated facts and links using reframeit that will be associated with specific areas of that content for as long as you want them to be.

TOPICS: Browser

Every so often you come across a web application that is a game changer: the utility of browser plugin reframeit is a hugely powerful adjunct to your use of the entire web.

The video above demonstrates marking up the transcript of a political speech with associated facts and links using reframeit that will be associated with specific areas of that content for as long as you want them to be.

By providing the ability to write 'notes in the margins' of any browser content, and then share those notes with your defined audience, you have a very powerful contextual tool with an extremely wide utility.

Reframeit allows you to annotate specific content on any web page, much as you would write notes in the margin of a book (Reframeit provides a 'margin' area next to every webpage to contain comments). The game changer is your ability to then share your notes with a chosen audience, and for others to share their notes with you.

From a commercial perspective an example could be marking up your competitor's web site and sharing it with your sales team, who can continue to update their contextual notes in the field.

Providing context to specific content is key to so much of web communication and the holy grail of social media marketing practitioners.

What is so intriguing from a workflow perspective is the ability to add notes to internal web applications, so notes can be appended to specific products for example to provide everything from training to departmental feedback.

As a collaboration tool reframe it has enormous use across a very broad spectrum.

Comments can be framed as a General Comment, Question, Counter or Supporting Argument, Suggestion, Explanation, Answer, Cause or Effect from a pull down menu above the field where you type your comments.

The matrix of 'channels' you share comments with can be deep: the same page could have several sets of your notes appended to it for specific groups of viewers with specific interests.

For a rapidly changing page, such as a heavily edited wiki, reframeit could prove somewhat redundant as content is removed or heavily edited, but for core content the power of this tool is evident.

A case could be made for a sponsored channel - so Nike could have runner's reframeit notes appended to their rivals sites and to user forums for example. If you subscribed to this channel you would see Nike's perspective on all pages on the web they chose to mark up.

This has strong implications for both outbound marketing usage and internal contextual notes.

ReframeIt CEO Bobby Fishkin came up with the idea for the product after spending four years tracking down and examining what Tolstoy, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Coleridge, C.S. Lewis, Melville and others hand-wrote in the margins of their personal copies of Shakespeare's Richard III.

It was clear to him that the position of their comments--right next to the passage to which they were responding--was key to how these writers engaged these texts. Fishkin, along with co-founders Chief Technology Officer Brian McKinney and Lead Engineer Benjamin Taitelbaum, created reframeit to make the same relationships between commentary and text possible for the entire web.

This academic contextual note taking precedent is well understood by users, and by providing the ability to add commentary onto web sites, reframeit creates a "transparency engine" for the Internet.

"Reframeit can help curb the power of misinformation to distort our national conversation about issues that matter. Anyone who cares about the quality of public dialogue in this country should welcome the transparency it makes possible," notes Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute and co-founder of The Root.

The power of the transparency demonstrated in the political video example at the top of this post should be self evident. The ability of reframeit to bring transparency to specific collaboration teams is something I will be experimenting with; I think it has tremendous utility in the modern enterprise.

Topic: Browser


Oliver Marks leads the Global Digital Enterprise Team at HP, having previously provided seasoned independent consulting guidance to companies on effective planning of business strategy, tactics, technology decisions, roll out and enduring use models that make best use of modern collaborative and social networking tools to achieve their business goals.

These are Oliver's views and not those of his employer HP.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Rigth On!

    I absolutely love reframeit. Not so cool on smaller monitor though. Nonetheless, I'm liking it a lot.
  • RE: A Transparency Engine for the World Wide Web

    The future of the web is in the hands of the people -- not Silicon Valley. Go Reframe It!
  • RE: A Transparency Engine for the World Wide Web

    This looks like a political commentary cleverly disguised as an update on technology. I think that I'll cancel my subscription.

    I was looking for insights on technology not political rhetoric.
    • Political Rhetoric?

      Sure the markup of the speech wasn't very intelligent but it really did illustrate the point of the post. I for one can stand someone else's opinion for I, at least, live in the real world.
  • No accountability

    Great concept but just like politics it doesn't have accountability. Case in point, the demo video in this blog.
    Keeping Current
  • More transparency or just more noise

    Already I am overwhelmed by my online social life. There are hundreds of reviews for every product, every restaurant. I have far beyond the Dunbar of friends on Twitter and Facebook all producing content and comments. While this technology allows for more contextual commenting (on an item rather than a general article) it also is a great opportunity for more noise...

    Imagine browsing from page to page and seeing dozens of arguments breaking out in your sidebar over various points. How are you going to isolate the logic and research supported comments from the general trolling and need to create controversy? It's giving people a platform to speak even more in your face (or in your sidebar).

    So, I don't see the ultimate usefulness of this in a general channel, but it could get interesting in the niche/sponsored channels. If there was a Facebook/reframeit integration that allowed me to only see my friends comments on the web. Considering the current election, what if the candidates each sponsored a channel or factcheck.org so that you could see their counterarguments to allegations.

    There has to not only be the context of what is being commented on, but who that comment is coming from and why.

    Marta Strickland
    • We Hear You


      You are completely correct about the overwhelming nature of multiple discussion and we had this very idea in mind when we created Reframe It. To combat the noise we have filters for friends, groups, and rating so you can drill down a pages comment.

      We also encourage organization (non-profit, corporate political) to identify themselves through special group affiliation. This places an identifier in comment so users know who it is coming from and gives organization the benefit from the extra traffic (they get a link in the comment).

      Identity is a major focus for us. We want our tool to not just add discussions but the right discussions that will be valuable to our users and to online communities as a whole.

      We think the right features and the right incentives will encourage our users to be more direct, honest and specific in their claims.

      Jeff Jenkins
  • RE: A Transparency Engine for the World Wide Web

    Just imagine that is a marked up transcript of Obama's comments: I merely used it as a topical example that illustrates a use for reframeit.

    No US electioneering intended.
  • RE: A Transparency Engine for the World Wide Web

    This is a very interesting concept. Imagine the repercussions
    if something damaging could be pointed out about Senator
    McCain's actions right next to a statement of his on his
    campaign website. That is the need for transparency, we
    need to help educate the American public with tools like this
    so they can pick fact from fiction on the internet.