Dan Cohen to present “Zotero and the Promise of Social Computing in Academia”

CHNM’s Dan Cohen will present on Zotero at the University of Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities on Tuesday, March 13 from 12:30-1:45 pm. The talk will be held in the MITH Conference Room in McKeldin Library, room B0135. For directions and other contact information, please visit the MITH homepage.

“Zotero and the Promise of Social Computing in Academia”
by DAN COHEN (Center for History and New Media, George Mason)

The Library of Congress contains over a million dissertations. Each of
these works represents an average of four years of work by a
specialist who has diligently and intelligently scanned, sorted, read,
categorized, assessed, and annotated hundreds or thousands of primary
and secondary sources. The staggering scale of this work–literally
billions of person-hours in dissertation work alone, not to mention
the research that went into the millions of other books those
dissertations share shelf space with–should be matched by the regret
academia should feel since almost all of this research is buried in
filing cabinets or boxes or worse: soon-to-be obsolete digital media
such as a floppy disk or the tacit knowledge of a researcher’s mind.
Often the most we can expect to see from all of this work, aside from
the book or article it informed, is the bibliography that is buried at
the end of the printed text.

But what if we could use digital methods to recapture that enormous
amount of scholarly work, the 90% of research that, like an iceberg,
is hidden beneath the 10% of the final product? The Zotero project
(which I co-direct) has released software that allows users to build,
tag, and annotate their own research collections, with a high level of
integration with online texts and databases; the next phase of the
project will add a server through which users and groups can exchange,
aggregate, and recommend digital texts and resources. If humanities
researchers–professors, students, and others–widely adopted such
digital tools, many parts of the scholarly process could be
recaptured, and, more important, networked together. See
www.zotero.org for more downloads and more information.

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