Building trust in media

CiteIt is developing new digital tools that help combat misinformation and selective quotations. These tools show the context surrounding the quoted media in order to build trust and understanding.



Often when I’m reading a story in print, I come across a quote that makes me wonder: What was said in the sentences preceding or following the quote? In other words: What is the Context? Is this quote cherry-picked and can I really get a full sense for what happened from just the quoted selection?

What is is the name I chose for a web service that allows writers to augment their writing with greater context about the quotations they make. The concept behind is part of the tradition that started with footnotes, became hypercharged with hypertext links, and now has evolved to enable the words of the original sources to flow into the citing document, without requiring the reader to interrupt their reading experience by leaving the original document.

Inspiration was inspired by the work of Ted Nelson — who coined the term “hypertext” in 1962 and had the vision for a universal hypertext network, long before Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had even assembled their first personal computers.

Philosphy of Hypertext While writing a review of Ted Nelson’s 2002 Ph.D. thesis, I was inspired to develop a way to write in a way more similar to what Nelson advocates.  Ted’s design — Xanadu — features parallel texts that provide the full context of their sources. My design is a crude semblance of Xanadu, displaying only one pane of text in which the text surrounding a citation is “injected”.  Because I do not have the technical ability to implement Ted’s vision and so much existing writing is available on the web as Html, I thought I could pursue Ted’s vision best by creating a quick-and-dirty extension to Html that would allow writers to start to create a collection of citation data.  There is a saying from the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams — If you build it – – he will come. My approach is a data-centric one, that prioritizes the collection of citation data as a foundation that attracts others to the task of building a better version of hypertext.  As the system develops, and as authors get used to the concept of pulling their quote context from the original source, it is my hope that the compilation of a public data set of citation data will attract great programmers to gradually rebuild hypertext, replacing my current Html cludge with advanced front and backend features.

photo: Tim Langeman
Tim Langeman    (home page)
Akron, PA (USA)

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Can you locate the source of any quote

  • No, CiteIt only locates the context of quotes whose source has been identified by the author with a URL.
  • If an author chooses not to identify a source, CiteIt will not attempt to locate it.

When did you begin CiteIt?

What source mediums can you cite?

  • CiteIt is capable of cititing webpages and electronic PDFs. I've written some code to do OCR on scanned PDFs, but it is not actively used.
  • CiteIt is capable of reading YouTube transcripts as well as transcripts from the Oyez Supreme Court Cases.
  • One limitation of CiteIt is that it is not good at handling Javascript-only websites (such as Twitter). This could be improved in the future.

Why is the context cut off mid-word?

  • One of the ideas behind CiteIt is that authors should not get to cherry-pick their quote or their quote's context. As a result, for every quote ..
  • CiteIt gives authors no discretion over their context and instead pulls the 500 characters of context, cutting off the selection mid-word if necessary.

Is there a simple code demonstration of CiteIt I can inspect that is stripped of all the WordPress boilerplate?

What was Neotext?

  • Neotext was the first name I gave to the project that became CiteIt.
  • Lynn Schmidt Miller suggested the name of “CiteIt” as a way to relate the project to the well-understood concept of citation.
  • You may see some stray references in the code to Neotext.