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 CiteIt.net?
CiteIt.net 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 CiteIt.net 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.
CiteIt.net 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.
While writing a review of Ted Nelson’s 2002 PhD 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 don’t 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 goal is to prioritize the collection of citation data as a data-centric approach. 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 the design, replacing my current html cludge with advanced front and backend features.
Akron, PA (USA)
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
When did you begin CiteIt?
- The idea for CiteIt.net came while I was writing a profile of Ted Nelson.
- I started writing an implementation with the first GitHub commit on Jan 15, 2015.
What is Neotext?
- Neotext is 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.
Why did you release this as open-source software under a free license like the MIT license?
- I want the type of citation I’m doing with CiteIt.net to spread as widely as possible.
- I want to promote the norm that serious discussions are substantiated with citations. The question to ask is: “Can you CiteIt?”
- By providing as few restrictions on implementations as possible, I hope others will extend my vision, taking it places I could not go on my own.
What do you use to create your footnotes on this website?
Is there a simple code demonstration of CiteIt I can inspect that is stripped of all the WordPress boilerplate?
- There is a basic example on GitHub of how to use the CiteIt.net jQuery library with the web service.
Want to Get Involved?
- A more complete list of features and bugs are outstanding in the Issue Tracker.
If you have ideas or think you can help, send me an email. (email address found on homepage)