It’s kind of a little surprise to myself that I’m still able to be here and writing.
The first time I got my first computer, I have developed a bad habit: collecting hundreds of ebook that will never be read. Well, to me that’s not too big a problem. As time pass by, my “library” grows bigger and bigger, and the directory system no longer satisfies my needs. So I have done some research about how to organize documents.
Yeah, you may already heard about a bunch of document-organizing system. Some are tools to classify ebooks, file type conversion & collecting their information on the Internet, like Calibre. Some allows users taking note, organizing their notes by tags and category, then sharing with others (a brilliant example is Evernote). But there’s another kind of tool that people often forget, that’s the bookmarking system of every browser!
Zotero is somewhat the combination of all above things. It’s only an add-on for Firefox browser and the functions it provides, in my opinion, are not special. But its simplicity is the thing which matters:
1. Quick save & take snapshot of any website you want: this things is quite good. If you are working on some kind of researching, very likely you must gather information little by little from arbitrary sources: blog posts, papers, articles… And even if you take the time to save the URL for reference, it’s a good chance that when you come back the resource doesn’t exist anymore. With this function, those problems disappear at ease (1).. Besides, you can take note with the saved documents and tagging them. Like a mini-evernote on your browser, right?
2. Share and browse the Zotero library:
With a Zotero account, you can share yourdocuments with the remains of the world! Just joking, but you can do that. You can even browse the favorite documents of other Zotero users. Zotero Groups, which is formed by people that share common interests, or discipline. This maybe more useful than you can imagine: let say you have a group of friends, which are interested in photographing techniques. There are too many article on this field, good or bad, how can you tell? How can you have the time to read it all? Instead, you can browse the documents of friends who is master at photographing (or even they are not your friends); isn’t that better?
3. Sync among many computers: this maybe trivival, but to some it’s important. Like many people, I have 2 computers: one for home and one for work. This function helps me continue my research seamlessly, like a little Dropbox for documents.
If you want to start with this great tool, you may want to take a look at here. This gives you some more details about what Zotero can provide.
(1) This is also exactly the things that Evernote Chrome/Firefox plugin provides. But to my experience, Zotero works just better and faster. Still, Zotero doesn’t require you to install a big app at client side to view the documents offline.