We just had a great speaker at the Literary Studies and the Digital Library Workshop–Dan Cohen came to discuss the Zotero project, a new web research tool specifically geared toward scholars. To describe it boringly, Zotero is a plugin for Firefox 2.0. But what it really does is give you an easy way to accumulate all of your del.icio.us links, bibliographic citations, Amazon books, etc into one annotatable database that lives on your computer. No more losing your Google Docs or battling with EndNote! No more wrestling with incredibly long library catalog URLs! That, at least, is the dream.
It seems like Cohen’s team has done a lot of amazing things already, and Zotero automatically recognizes many kinds of XML in the pages you browse (like the author and title of the book you’re looking at on Amazon, for example). Then when you drag and drop that tab into the Firefox applet, you have a record that already includes the citation information you would have to type in for other reference programs. At least I think this is what it does now–I only installed it this afternoon.
I’ll report back with an update on how well Zotero works, and whether Cohen excommunicates me from the Church of the Semantic Web after I tell him I screwed up recording his talk today. You have to push the record button twice, and it looks like it’s recording after the first push. Not intuitive.