University of Wisconsin–Madison

Critical Internet Project in Communication Arts

Professor Jeremy Morris (Communication Arts 346)

Internet Genius Prompt

Using the technologies behind the annotation site Rap Genius (, this project requires you to annotate a text of your choosing to make a critical commentary on it. As with Rap Genius’ analysis of lyrics, your annotations should provide extra information to the reader, build on the text and critically reflect on it. Your annotations can be in the form of more text, links to other references or sources, images, animated gifs, etc. Your annotations can be about a specific word or term, or can summarize an entire sentence or paragraph, but they should explain the text and expand it. As with Rap Genius, the annotations can also be a mix of factual material, informed opinion, and playful commentary. That said, the annotations must include mention of course concepts and keywords, and should make reference to at least two course texts at some point during the annotations. Use the course concepts and keywords as a way to think CRITICALLY about the documents. Your project will be judged not only on your ability to extend and clarify the text in the documents, but on your ability to challenge, question and reflect on the substance of the document in question using course material.

You may choose any “text” or web page but you must have your choice approved by your instructor before beginning the assignment. While we encourage you to pick a text that is of interest to you, be sure to look for something that you feel you can connect to several course concepts. In the past, we have directed students to posts like Google’s “Ten Things We Know to be True” guiding principles ( company/philosophy/) or John Perry Barlow’s “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” ( Both these texts are rich with some of the issues and ideologies we’ve discussed in class.


Assignment Guidelines

  • Annotations (i.e. the comments you write, not the original article) should be between 800 and 1200 words in total.
  • Annotations can include images, gifs, videos, links to other sources and basic text. They should include at least 5 images or videos and 3 links to relevant web content.
  • Follow the style and tone of Rap Genius but remember this is still a formal project.
  • Annotations can be done via the course blog or via traditional footnotes in word, multimedia mark-up software like Acrobat, Preview, or screengrab services like Jing
  • Not every single sentence of the source material needs to be annotated, though annotations can cover words, sentences or entire paragraphs.
  • Annotations can explain difficult concepts or offer alternate definitions, they can expand the text by adding extra arguments or opinions for understanding it, or they can be a playful diversion. Your paper should balance all three of these kinds of annotations.
  • Annotations should include at least 2 references to class material.

[Internet Genius Mechanics – See online instructions]




Content (10%) – How useful, engaging and in-depth are the annotations? How appropriate/relevant is the choice of the source text? How well does the source text allow for annotations about course related content? How well does the student explain the text and expand on it through their annotation? Does the student simply provide definitions, or do they use the annotations to both expand on and critique some of the assumptions in the texts? How well does the student link to additional relevant material? How well do they use images, gifs and other modes of communication to annotate the text? How clear are the annotations?


Research (5%) – Does the student use the recommended amount of sources from class materials and other materials? How appropriate and original are the sources the students use? How well does the student link the sources to the annotation to which they attach them? Can the student fully explain the concepts they are citing, or do they simply mention course material in passing without fully using it to comment on or expand the text in question?


Delivery (5%)

How well-written, insightful and striking are the annotations? Do they follow the form and tone of Genius? Do they use the recommended number of image, video and links and meet the other guidelines above? Are the annotations particularly creative or engaging, or are they merely explanatory? Does the author show a thoughtful approach to annotations that balances academic seriousness with playfulness?