Archive for November, 2006

Feature spotlight: note-taking

Most users don’t just like to read and gather sources; they like to take notes on them. We’ve all got little scribbles in the margins of books, on post-its, and on notepads (real and virtual). Zotero makes it easy to keep all those annotations, jots, and notes all in one place, and all searchable. And with the recent addition of the ‘grab a chunk of text off the screen’ capability added in the latest version of Zotero, that process has become even easier. Here’s an overview of note-taking to simplify your life.

Reading and Writing
As a scholarly workbench, Zotero reflects a basic understanding of the researcher as a crossbreed between a reader and a writer. Does browsing MIT’s Wearable Computing pages provoke a thought? Does reviewing the presiding judge’s ruling in Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. spark some insight? Simply open your Zotero pane, click on the “standalone note” icon in the middle column (Figure 1), and type away. No need to cumbersomely switch back and forth between your web browser and a desktop application (Figures 2 and 3).

middle_column_icons.jpg Figure 1. Five icons appear at the top of the middle column in the Zotero pane. The yellow square with a plus sign at far right is the “standalone note” icon.

Figure 2. Zotero integrates reading and writing within a single environment. You can resize the Zotero pane by clicking and dragging, thereby revealing more or less of the content in the browser window.

Figure 3. Enlargement of note in right column.

Grabbing Text
Because new research often incorporates pre-existing work, Zotero makes it easy for you to migrate quotable material from a web-based source into your notes. Highlight the relevant text, right-click (ctrl-click on the Mac) to open a pop-up menu, and select “Create Zotero Note from Selection” (Figures 4 and 5). In this way, Zotero facilitates transcription as well as annotation.

Figure 4. Zotero allows you to highlight plaintext and send it to a note.

Figure 5. The copied text appears in the right column of the Zotero pane.

Other Ways to Add Notes
To preserve the connection between source and annotation, first add the source item to your library and then either right-click on the title (ctrl-click on a Mac) in the middle column, choosing “add note” from the pop-up menu (Figure 6), or click on the note tab in the right column and select “Add” (Figure 7). If you return to the note later, you have the choice of editing it in the right column or in a separate window (Figure 8 ).

Figure 6. To associate a note with a specific item, right-click on the title of the relevant item in the middle column and select “Add Note” from the pop-up menu.

Figure 7. Another way to associate a note with an item is to click on the title in the middle column, select the “Notes” tab in the right column, and then click “Add.”

Figure 8. You can edit a note in the right column of your Zotero pane or, as shown here, in a separate window.

“Related” and “Tags” Options
You can cross-reference other items in your library by clicking the “Related” option in the bottom left corner of the note window (Figure 3). Doing so will open a menu from which you can choose a related reference, note, snapshot, or file. To select more than one, hold down the shift key and click all relevant items. Several notes can be appended to each item, all of them searchable. You can also add tags to notes by clicking “Tags” in the bottom left corner of the Note window (Figure 3).

Deleting a Note
Clicking on the minus sign that appears next to a note in the right column will delete it (Figure 9), as will right-clicking on the note icon (ctrl-clicking on the Mac) in the middle column and then selecting “Delete Selected Item from Library” (Figure 10).

Figure 9. Delete a note by clicking on the minus sign.

Figure 10. Delete a note by selecting “Delete Selected Item” from pop-up menu.

Find Out More
To learn more about Zotero’s capabilities, visit our online documentation, or check out Steve Bailey’s screencast.

New translator for Google Book Search

We have modified our translator for Google Books, which received a major update last week. Zotero users can now automatically grab metadata from the site while enjoying Google Books’ new browsing interface. You can read full-view books in two-page mode, for example, while taking notes in Zotero.


Interested in knowing what other databases, library catalogs, and online resources are compatible with Zotero? Visit our list of supported sites. If there are additional site translators you would like to see, please let us know.

Rosenzweig, Cohen, and Greenberg to present on Zotero

CHNM’s Roy Rosenzweig, Daniel Cohen, and Joshua Greenberg are presenting an introduction to Zotero at the bi-annual Task Force Meeting of the Coalition for Networked Information in Washington, D. C. on Tuesday, December 5 from 1-2 pm. For registration, contact, and other information, please visit the CNI conference homepage.

Coalition for Networked Information
Tuesday, December 5, 1-2 pm
Renaissance Washington D. C. Hotel
Renaissance West

“Introduction to Zotero”

The Center for History and New Media has just released Zotero 1.0, a next-generation scholarly research tool that runs in the Firefox web browser. On a very basic level, Zotero stores references and notes (like EndNote or other citation managers). But since it lives in the browser and is web-aware, Zotero is able to provide a number of innovative features, such as the ability to sense, record, and share scholarly metadata on the web. For instance, when you are viewing the web page for a book (e.g., on a library’s website or at Zotero understands that you are looking at a book and can offer to save its full citation information. Zotero has native support for promising new web technologies, including OpenURL, embedded microformats, RDF, and a variety of XML data-exchange formats. In addition, Zotero has “smart folder” and “smart search” technology and other advanced features such as tagging. The 1.0 release of Zotero is just the beginning of what we believe will be a powerful, open, extensible platform for scholarly research. We plan to provide features to greatly enhance collaboration and autodiscovery—such as the ability to share and collaboratively construct bibliographies and notes, and find new books and articles that might be of interest based on what you’ve already saved to your library (using a server-based recommendation system). And like Firefox itself, other researchers and software developers will be able to expand Zotero with digital tools for visualization, text analysis, document classification, and translation (to name just a few possibilities). We will provide a demonstration and technical overview of the software, and we will explain how various pieces of the Zotero—such as its robust tagging and search capabilities—can be combined with other software (on both the client- and server-side) to create novel forms of research, interpretation, and communication.

DC Area Technology & Humanities Forum Returns December 5th

(cross-posted from Center for History and New Media)

Scholarship 2.0: What Web 2.0 means for Digital Humanists

Tuesday December 5th from 5-7pm, Research 1 Room 462, Center for History & New Media, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

This fall’s Washington DC Area Forum on Technology and the Humanities focuses on the opportunities and challenges presented by Web 2.0 technologies for digital humanists. Speakers will include Bryan Alexander on “Web 2.0 and Digital Humanists,” Dan Cohen on “Zotero and the Next Generation of Scholarly Research,” and Eddie Maloney on “When is an ePortfolio not an ePortfolio? Georgetown University’s Digital Notebook project.”

Bryan Alexander researches and develops programs on the advanced uses of information technology in liberal arts colleges. His specialties include digital writing, weblogs, copyright and intellectual property, information literacy, wireless culture and teaching, project management, information design, and interdisciplinary collaboration. He contributes to a series of weblogs, including NITLE Tech News, MANE IT leaders, and Smartmobs, when not creating digital learning objects (like Gormenghast). He has taught English and information technology studies at the University of Michigan and Centenary College.

Dan Cohen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University and the Director of Research Projects at the Center for History and New Media. His research is in European and American intellectual history, the history of science (particularly mathematics), and the intersection of history and computing. He is co-author with Roy Rosenzweig of Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), author of Equations from God: Pure Mathematics and Victorian Faith (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007), and has published articles and book chapters on the history of mathematics and religion, the teaching of history, and the future of history in a digital age in journals such as the Journal of American History, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Rethinking History. At the Center for History and New Media he has co-directed the September 11 Digital Archive and the Echo project, and has developed software tools for scholars, teachers, and students.

Eddie Maloney is the Managing Director of CNDLS, the Director of Research and Learning Technologies for CNDLS and the Office of Information Systems, and a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of English. He holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University and a Master’s Degree from Syracuse University, both in English Literature. In his various roles at the University, Eddie helps to define Georgetown’s technology strategy as it relates to teaching and scholarship. His first love, though, is teaching, which he has been doing at the university level for the past fourteen years. As a faculty member in the Department of English, he teaches 20th-century literature and narrative theory courses. He has published on James Joyce and J. D. Salinger, as well as on issues related to narrative and literary theory, film studies, and hypertext fiction. He is currently working on a book-length project on the use of artificial paratexts in fictional narratives.

The Forum will meet on Tuesday December 5, 2006 from 5:00-7:00 PM on George Mason University’s Fairfax campus in the Center for History & New Media Lab (room 462) in the Research 1 Building, directly across from the Sandy Creek Parking Deck. There will be an informal dinner after the forum, at a cost of $10 per person. You must RSVP online for dinner by November 28.

Co-sponsored by the Center for History & New Media (CHNM) at GMU and the Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship (CNDLS) at Georgetown, the DC Area Technology and Humanities Forum explores important issues in humanities computing and provide an opportunity for DC area scholars interested the uses of new technology in the humanities to meet and get acquainted.

Update: There has been a room change for tomorrow’s DC Tech & Humanities
Forum, “Scholarship 2.0: What Web 2.0 means for Digital Humanists.” We
will meet in the Showcase on the first floor of the Observatory Tower
in the Research 1 Building on George Mason University’s Fairfax