Writing on the margins of the web

Wednesday February 14th Stand-in school for graphic design

10:00 - 10:30 Introduction presentation
10:30 - 10:45 Theoretical background: How to read source code
10:45 - 11:00 Break
11:00 - 12:30 Practical part: exploring digital margins
12:30 - 13:00 Reading and Closing Discussion



citation as storytelling, not ownership. citation not b/c we believe in the ownership of ideas, but citation as a form of storytelling and lineage


These are notes written in the margins of the page, alongside the main text. They are not formally integrated into the structure of the text but are added by readers or sometimes by the author during or after the writing process. Marginalia can be more spontaneous and personal compared to the structured format of footnotes.


Meaning is interpersonal interpretation, a shared pathway of consciousness. (Berardi, 2018, p. 79)

Meaning is based on friendship, on dialogue among friends. (Berardi, 2018, p. 80) Meaning is then based on relation. It can only enfold when situated, entangled, located.


The noun markup is derived from the traditional publishing practice called "marking up" a manuscript, which involves adding handwritten annotations in the form of conventional symbolic printer's instructions — in the margins and the text of a paper or a printed manuscript. (maybe writing markup language then is writing marginalia)


The practice of writing marginalia is as old as writing itself. Particularly in books produced before the printing press, marginalia often formed dialogues between readers, as these books were handcrafted and passed down through generations. While our engagement with physical books remains, we frequently encounter digital texts, code-based texts, and hypertexts. This leads us to ponder: what are the margins of a webpage or a code?

Challenging the perception of digital text as intangible and flat, we strive to explore its materialities and possibilities for inscription and relation. In source codes, we confront the notion that code is best-practice when it lacks comments and is deemed self-explanatory. Commenting on code, however, makes the writing process more legible for writers, readers, learners, and inspectors. We propose using comments in source code not just for describing or crediting steps, but as a margin that provides space for process documentation, conversation, and the otherwise overlooked or deemed 'unimportant'.

Every webpage’s source code is accessible through built-in web inspector tools in browsers, a starting point that forms a margin to the text on site. for this workshop's practical component, we will bring a selection of digital texts. You will be invited to write your own annotations, comments, and interpretations, exploring how these marginal notes can shape and add dimension to the source-code. A basic understanding of HTML will be helpful but is not required.


some useful links start writing

source code marginalia examples

HTML basics

Introduction to 'Writing in Digital Margins'

group sandboxes