Tag Archives: zotero

Participatory culture and cloud computing

Clouds by fifikins via flickr CC

At MPOW we get many requests from both academics and postgraduate students for help with referencing software such as Endnote.  One of the problems with download-able software such as Endnote is the portability of data between the devices on which it is installed. You either accept that you have different lists, or carry around USB sticks with data and never be quite sure which is the most up to date….. Enter products such as Endnote Web – storing the information in the cloud and accessing it from home, work, beside the children’s tennis lessons or while waiting in the doctor’s surgery.

This is not a post about Endnote – it’s just one example.

Access is the key – and if you are writing a paper or presentation with others, then sharing also becomes important. Web 2.0 tools enable us to show academics and students how to create a public Dropbox folder for documents, store favourite links in an online bookmarking service such as delicious or diigo, or use Google Docs to collaborate on a paper with colleagues. Kathryn Greenhill describes this process perfectly over at Librarians matter:

Zotero itself has taken the place of any social bookmarking like delicious or diigo. [We] used it to collect references for our [shared] VALA2010 paper over the last couple of months – just adding to a shared group library. We read through and tagged these references and pulled out useful quotes, so now as we write up the paper, we just click on a tag and instantly have a list of references on that topic.

Participatory culture means we need new, social skills as part of our work or study. Cloud services allow our skills in collective intelligence, judgement, transmedia navigation and networking to be utilised easily.

Cloud services carry risks that must be weighed up in making the decision to use them. Control over access to your data is largely out of your hands – behind whatever security has been set up by the company or organisation taking responsibility for the data. The security disaster faced by Sony earlier this year highlights how easily it can all go wrong.

On balance? I’m happy to take advantage of the convenience of cloud services, the way they allow access to my information and allow collaboration with colleagues.


Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Available http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF

Nelson, M. R. (2009). Building an open cloud [Cloud computing as platform]. Science, 324(5935), 1656-1657. Retrieved from http://www.sciencemag.org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/cgi/reprint/324/5935/1656.pdf

Organising my life – Part 2

During #blogeverydayinjune I blogged about organiser and productivity apps and software for my iPhone and the desktop situation. I tweeted over the weekend that

All the time spent trying todo list apps paid off today, went errand-ing and didn’t forget anything! #appjunkie

which prompted this response from @fionareadersrr

@newgradlib Oooh – I need a to do list app! What do you suggest?

When I went back to my original blog post I realised how woefully thin on details it was (I’m putting this down to the production pressure of #blogeverydayinjune!).  The world is swamped with to-do list and productivity apps but here’s what it’s come down to for me:

  • On the iPhone I use the calendar function as it gives me alerts for events, appointments and other things I don’t want to forget.  Having just bought my first MacBook I’m hoping this will pay off with syncs to iCal as well.  There’s a lot of things I don’t like about this calendar but it does send alerts and sometimes (mostly?) that’s useful.
  • I also use an app called ShopListFree which is a handy little shopping list that includes a satisfying ‘tick the box’ when you’ve put the item in the trolley.  It also remembers your items once you’ve entered them so the more I use it the more useful it is as I have to do less and less typing each time.  When you close the app, it shows a little red number representing the number of things on your list that haven’t been ticked.  My breakthrough on the weekend was to use this shopping list to keep track of all the errands I had to run, rather than just the things I had to get in the supermarket.  While it doesn’t send reminders, I do look at my iPhone often enough to notice that there are things ‘unchecked’.  All in all, very useful for the price!  Here is a comparison between my app and one called Grocery List.

The second part of my earlier post about this was my dilemma with cloud based ‘favourites’ tools, such as zotero and diigo.  I’m still dilemma-ing and agree with Miss Sophie Mac’s comment to that post and wish I could combine parts of all of the ones I’ve tried.  Since the time of writing, I have flicked zotero, mainly because it’s usefulness is limited if you don’t use Firefox (it’s a firefox plugin) and have recently begun using springpadit.  I haven’t entirely given up on diigo…


During the week I organised my registration to ALIA Access in Brisbane in September.  So now, I have flights and conference registration – still working on accommodation.  I read a blog post from ProfHacker last month on eating well at conferences and thanks to Zotero was able to find it again to link it here.

The point of this post is actually to talk about Zotero (and the general concept of ‘portable’ favourites lists – gotta love the cloud).  I use it pretty extensively and find it a handy way to capture and sort the various websites and blog postings I come across.  I subscribe to a few blogs such as TechCrunch and LifeHacker Australia  that produce a lot of posts every day.  As I’m pretty keen on a zero inbox (or as close to it as I can possibly get) I use Zotero to help me get through it.  Essentially, I skim the email headers, if it might be interesting I go to the whole post, then either save it in Zotero to look at later or delete it.  It also means I don’t have to email stuff to myself from work or from home if I find things I think might be interesting in the other.

My question is, I have also dabbled with diigo and as I don’t see the need to maintain both, am wondering what the essential difference is.  I’m not particularly interested in the social networking aspects of diigo as I have plenty of other outlets – what I love about both is being able to save my ‘favourites’  and access them from wherever I am. 

Anyone out there with thoughts or experiences to share?

image: First Air 727-100 by caribb via flickr