Ethan and I became friends in our first-year computer science class and often send each other essays and articles about tech. For us, the liberal arts cliche proved school; much of the value of school came from sharing knowledge with peers; in a dining hall or library we'd stumble across something interesting, send it to the other, and often read it at the same time. In real-time we'd talk about our favorite paragraphs, snippets, bizzare drawings, and more. When we were sent home in March these exchanges mutated into clunky text conversations splitting timezones and spanning thousands of miles.
What was most frustrating was the difficulty of sending specific sections or making comments about little bits; copy-pasting was clunky, scheduling synchronous phone or video calls proved unwieldy, and it proved impractical and imprecise to discuss snippets individually. An email thread started by a friend to share articles validated that this frustration was common; as much as we might want to, our quarantine-eroded attention spans made reading paragraph long responses from a few friends in addition to the initial article itself seem impossibly daunting.
Marginr began as a way to insert commentary alongside articles, motivating us to read and discuss more engagingly with our favorite content on the internet.
What it does
Marginr is a Chrome extension that allows users to add highlights and text annotations in-line to any article on the internet. The extension can save these articles to HTML documents which are easily shareable by email or text. Users who read these articles can also add secondary commentary, i.e. separate instances of Marginr can annotate the same page multiple different times with notes from different users.