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Annotate the Web and Share

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What does it mean to annotate a web page? Do you know about this new internet technology? 

When Marc Andreessen cofounded Netscape and coauthored Mosaic he saw the future of the internet.

A less well-known fact is that part of his recommendation set included an annotation feature.

However, that feature proved to be ahead of its time. Well, that time is here. Have you heard of the Genius Annotation Chrome App?

Genius Logo

Annotate the Web and Share with Your Social Networks

After you install this Extension all you have to do is highlight some text on any page and an icon will appear next to the highlighted text. The icon looks like this.

Image of Genius Annotation Chrome Extension

If you click the Genius Logo (Negative Space G in Genius), a menu will appear on the right side of your tab.

This menu prompts you to create an account.

If you’re logged into a social media account, integrating it with Twitter, Google+, or Facebook is quicker than opting to create a Genius account.

Here is what the menu looks like.

Create a Genius Account Menu

In addition to a quicker process, integrating your social media accounts affords several other perks.

Firstly, you can leverage your networking activities from Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ (Google Plus? what networking activity) to increase your Genius profile engagement. When I set up a Twitter integration for an account I manage, I saw this:

When I set up a Twitter integration for an account I manage, I saw this:

Twitter Integration with Genius Annotation Web App


The accounts listed are profiles that the integrated Twitter account follows. The follow all button quickly brings over all your following efforts right into Genius. After the initial account

The follow all button quickly brings over all your following efforts right into Genius. After the initial account setup you can integrate Facebook and Google+ for easy sharing.


Embed Your Annotations Anywhere

The other benefit is for referencing great content in a convenient way. As an example, I will google “Annotate the Web” and click the fifth result.

Why the fifth result? Cause I plead the fifth. That’s why. Sorry for my rude outburst. Let’s keep going.

The article I found is called “Top Web Annotation and Markup Tools”. This article features 26 different annotation tools. Let’s say I liked the attention getter in the intro so much, that I wanted to place it on my site.

The Genius Annotation Extension is perfect for this. After you create an annotation, click the embed icon to copy the embed code to your clipboard.

<em>Ever try browsing the web and came across some content that you wanted to save for later reference?</em>
― Top Web Annotation and Markup Tools – Hongkiat

Now that you have the code in your clipboard, you can add it to your site or any digital property where you control the source code. Pretty cool, huh?

My favorite aspect of this technology is that the clicked link will open a window with the annotation highlighted. The panel on the right has quick sharing, copying, and embedding buttons.

The number one rule in marketing is – “Make it easy for them to do what you want them to do” – Correction, this is my rule.

Since the goal here is to share content and encourage others to share, I couldn’t imagine a simpler process. If you click the expand button, you can reply and foster a conversation, however, you will need to create a genius account to do so.


How Genius Started

The initial name was Rap Genius because the goal was to annotate rap lyrics. The annotation of lyrics spread to other music genres, to annotating literature, media transcripts (movies, standup, tv shows, the list goes on and on), and even sporting events.


The Three Founders

Tom Lehman is a co-founder and CEO of Genius.  

Russell Farhang is a co-founder and COO of Genius

Mahbod Moghadam was a co-founder but was fired due to inappropriate annotations.


Adding a Song

If you are a musician, a band promoter, or fan, you can add songs to Genius.

I imagine they will soon change this from Add Song to something more universal since the available tags span other genres of media.

  1. Click Add Song in the top menu.
  2. Enter the artist, author, creator, or whatever call it
  3. Enter a Title
  4. Select a primary tag
    1. Rap
    2. R&B
    3. Pop
    4. Rock
    5. Lit
    6. Country
    7. News
    8. History
    9. Sports
    10. Law
    11. Tech
    12. X (Other) – Add anything of any type or category.
  5. Option to add Additional Metadata
  6. Enter the Content

Help Avoid Duplicate Content

When you enter data for adding a song (or whatever they will change it to) an expanded list appears asking you to check the items in the list.

The goal is to avoid duplicate songs being listed on Genius. If 2 million people love a song and annotate it, you want that conversation to happen in one place and not across 2 million individual URLs.

Their algorithms analyze what you’ve entered and makes recommendations for potential matches. Each listing has a percentage next to it representing what percent of the lyrics have been annotated.

To test this out, I typed “Greensleeves” which is attributed to Henry VIII on Wikipedia. This quickly showed me the artists who have covers of this really old classic. This example demonstrates an interesting way to discover artists that cover a particular classic.


Genius Annotation of Greensleeves Screen Capture

Now for something more relevant, let’s search Annotate the Web – The results include an article called “Why Andreessen Horowitz Is Investing in Rap Genius” which is 38% annotated.


Genius Has A Lot to Offer

This article doesn’t provide a full listing of the features, and it doesn’t convey everything you can do with Pyong but if I see some comments below. I’ll go back and expand this article to share more of the coolness that is Genius.

Thanks for reading.

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