True confession time. I’m an academic; a teacher, a researcher, and a political and scientific current events junkie. with a collaboration disorder (I’m happy to tell you what I learned recently). Oh, I’m also a Mac user.
That means my Mac is the tool of choice for setting up curriculum, doing online research, and keeping up with whatever needs to be kept up with in academia, science, and my all time entertainment favorite, politics. If that sounds a bit like you, then here’s a tool you’ll love to use and it’s free.
Zotero, Not Zorro
Anyone with a Mac, Windows PC, or even a Linux PC or notebook who understands the aforementioned afflictions understands the problems of collection, organization, citation, storage, and sharing of information.
Zotero is a service with a Mac app (and apps for Windows and Linux, but, oddly, not iOS or Android; yet) which does just that. It’s a research tool which works in concert with your web browser of choice (please choose a popular browser) and senses content you’re reading at the moment and makes it available to save into Zotero’s system– your library– with a click.
If there’s anything else quite like Zotero I have yet to run across it, but would consider a mobile version that has similar functions. Zotero looks and feels very Windows-like, but I don’t hold that against the capability to grab, store, and share relevant information.
The Library of content is saved into a navigable lefthand Sidebar, something of a standard for libraries (think iTunes, iPhoto, etc.). Content can be tagged for easier and faster reference, and organized into various subjects or categories as needed.
Also built-in to Zotero is support for PDFs, audio and video files, images, website pages, documents, and almost anything that can be saved and stored on your Mac. The built-in tools allow you to capture and store website content with a click.
Searching through digital reams of content isn’t fun with Apple’s built-in Spotlight, which tends to capture too much, or, too little, and mixes the unnecessary with the necessary. Zero, on the other hand, indexes the full text of whatever you’ve captured while you browse the web or research sites, so search are quick; almost simplistic. For Safari users, a single click to the Zotero toolbar icon saves the page’s content into the library.
This is nicely done, priced right, works well, but really needs an iPhone and iPad version.