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Annotum Definition



When Google announced they were closing Knol, they pointed Knol users toward Annotum. What is it?

The Death of Knol

You might also be asking what the heck a Knol is, so here's some background on that. Knol was a 2007 project that some billed as a "Wikipedia killer." The idea was to create a publishing platform for authors to create fully attributed articles about whatever topic they chose. They could even choose to put AdSense ads on their content and make money from their articles if they became popular. Wikipedia is created and edited by anonymous users who don't get paid for their work.

At any rate, Knol was not a resounding hit and Wikipedia is still churning away anonymously authored articles. Google decided to close Knol by May 2012 and focus on other efforts, and they're using Annotum as a migration tool for Knol content. 

The Birth of Annotum

Annotum is a WordPress theme developed by Solvitor, Crowd Favorite, and Google. It can be hosted for free on Auttomatic's WordPress.com hosting site, or it can be installed on WordPress 3.3 and above. (As of this writing, WordPress 3.3 is the most current version.) It's a free and open source project, so anyone is free to modify it and even fork it.

What is unique about this particular theme? Annotum is attempting to create a publishing standard for peer-reviewed scholarly journals. There hasn't been a huge amount of development in that area, and most tools are simply there to distribute edited documents rather than facilitating the process of peer review and publication. Annotum can be used by single or multiple authors and supports NLM/PubMed Journal Article document type definitions (DTD) commonly used in eJournals as well as exporting files to PDF or XML.

Annotum is also designed to work with other Annotum sites, so you could cross-reference citations or export and import articles between journals. That is, if Annotum becomes widely adopted. The editing tools also provide equation editing, figures, and tables. It could be used by small groups to publish to themselves or large groups to publish to the world.

The Potential Conflicts

One interesting note about using WordPress is that Google already has a blogging platform, Blogger. They also have a content publishing platform, Google Sites. Does that mean that Blogger and Google Sites are doomed? Not necessarily. Google loves open source projects, and they love creating easily indexable standards. If scholars used the Annotum platform, that would guarantee there would be more and better quality indexed content available for Google Scholar searches.

Installing Annotum

Annotum is an easy installation, but it does have a few quirks. It's already available for Wordpress.com users, and it can be installed on WordPress 3.3 and higher with some caveats. Annotum recommends you use a clean installation rather than adding it to an existing blog. There's a good reason for this. Annotum creates a new "article" content type. Most WordPress blogs create content in post and page content types. Once the theme is installed, the existing content would disappear because it would be the wrong content type. You'd have to migrate it by hand.

Migrating Knol Content

  1. If you have existing Knol content, you can migrate it to an Annotum blog hosted on WordPress.com by clicking on the link on the Knol home page.
  2. Next, log into an existing WordPress.com account or create a new one.
  3. If you're a returning WordPress.com user, choose whether to use an existing WordPress.com site or create a new one.
  4. Choose a base color scheme for your Annotum theme.  
  5. If, for whatever reason, you don't want your existing Knol content to redirect to WordPress, uncheck the box. In most cases, you should leave this alone.
  6. Click Submit.
  7. Give permission for WordPress to access your Google content. 
  8. Your content will be migrated. You'll receive an email when the process is complete. 

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