Friday, December 01, 2006

Digital Skill #3: Zotero My Love!

So, I love this frigin' program let me tell you! It is hard for me to even convey the differences between my old way of note-taking, bibliography-storing and organizing. I have always been a very organized person, especially compared to most historians I have known over my very short career in the field. But Zotero, from an organization standpoint, is just fantastic. I have kept my similar style of organizing my readings, mainly by class, although I will also probably create some topical folders as well since, as we of course know, the entries can appear multiple times!!

Now, I do have a glaring problem: I had ALL of my articles, notes to books I have read, and all the papers I had written in my file cabinet at my old house. And, as some of you know, when Katrina's floodwaters came, they went bye-bye with everything else including all the books I had bought as well. So, I am now faced with the daunting task of recreating all the books/articles I read at UNO. Luckily, I have my thesis notes and some notes/articles from my most important seminar on 17th century America. But, compiling all the other sources from my earlier classes will be tough. I have looked for some online, but UNO in 2002 was very far behind in the put-your-syllabus-online movement.

Okay, enough of that sob story, back to the awesome, the wonderful Zotero! Before, I used to take notes in the margins, simply underline, or write in a notebook (if I had borrowed the book from a library or a fellow grad student). Now, I intend to jot down some really important themes/disagreements/etc. when I read so I can upload them onto Zotero. Also, I have begun to asterisk more (but not too much of course or it loses its value!).

As for the uploading of the sources onto Zotero (which are only my two classes this semester and my thesis sources), Clio was so easy I wanted to cry. With the online, interactive syllabus, I just had to go to the site, then make an entry from the page. As for the other ones, I did them manually because, unfortunately, I attended Josh's Zotero HACK session after adding those books and articles. If I hadn't, I could've taken advantage of the GMU library to find all the metadata for them. But, now I know and that shall be the way I do it from now on.

Just to sum up: thank you CHNM!!!!!


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