Genius breaks down text with line-by-line annotations, added and edited by anyone in the world. It’s your interactive guide to human culture.

In the first act of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” Benedick declaims that if he ever changes his mind about the untrustworthiness of women and the foolishness of love, he’ll let his friend Don Pedro “hang him in a bottle like a cat and shoot at him.”

Hanging in a bottle like a cat??

In “Good Morning,” Kanye raps the line, “I’m like the fly Malcolm X, buy any jeans necessary.” Again: it sounds cool, but what’s he talking about?

In her first official visit to Congress, the new Fed chair Janet Yellen said (among a lot of other confusing things), “We expect to issue proposals for a risk-based capital surcharge for those banks as well as for a long-term debt requirement to help ensure that these organizations can be resolved.”

“Can be resolved”? It seems like she’s saying something important—but how can we be sure?

Genius layers answers to questions like these over the text itself, enabling you to answer them as you read. Whenever you’re confused by or interested in a passage, you can click it to read an annotation that explains in plain language what you’re reading and why it’s important.

How does it work? Who writes the annotations? Why?

Texts on Genius are living documents. Over time, they transform into definitive guides as people just like you from around the world add bits of knowledge to them.

There is no single genius who writes all the annotations—anyone can contribute. Genius is powered by the community, and that’s what makes it special.

Annotations are like miniature Wikipedia pages: constantly-improving distillations of the combined wisdom of potentially dozens of scholars.

These annotations are informative, first and foremost, but often also playful.

It’s like a slightly more organized version of the thing that happens when a group of friends picks their favorite artist’s work apart, debates its meaning, relates it to other writing and art and music and TV shows, and eventually settles on the “best” interpretation.

Genius too is a conversation built around texts and the interpretations of those texts, where you and your Internet-friends debate and converge on good annotations. You can follow other scholars and artists, and you’ll get notified whenever they add to the site. When you spruce up someone else’s work, or suggest a way to make it better, they’ll get notified, too.


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Genius Free Free for use.


January 10, 2015

Great tool for annotating a variety of multimedia formats.