Highlight Poetry

Finding poetry in other people’s webpages


A few years ago, I was at a conference about annotation on the web, and I had a minor epiphany. I realised that in many ways the best way to link to text is to quote a meaningful chunk of it. Nowadays it’s easier to search for text than link to it, especially as links decay.

We're used to searching the web, and searching within the page we're reading for the key phrase now. However, to link to text within a page we have to use a pre-existing id or a name that the author put there in advance.

What if we could just link to some text within the page, and have the browser scroll to it?

I wrote it up and talked about it, indieweb people made a plug-in and it got some minor interest.

Welcome Google

About a year ago, a proposal popped up from Google Chrome to do something similar- they wanted to link to bits of text in a page from search results.

As they get to ship the most-used browser in the world, they can drive adoption of these kinds of things, and so their rather more complex proposal is now shipping.

Fun with linking

One difference with their spec is that it doesn’t just link to the containing element, it highlights the linked words in the text (though their example URL no longer works, as the linked-to wiki page changed).

They also made it possible to link to multiple separate runs of text, word by word, and highlight those.

This means that we can do a kind of inverse “blackout poetry” by highlighting words in a text to show a different message. Follow this link in Chrome for a wild example.

Highlight Poetry

Now this can also be used to selectively highlight other texts to reveal hidden messages - or relentless misquoting.