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As someone who has been using Google docs since about 2008, I’m really interested in the evolution of cloud computing and data management. One advantage to cloud computing we didn’t mention in class today is a rather obvious one: If you’re working in G-docs and your computer dies in the middle of your comps, you lose nothing! It is all completely safe and accessible from any other computer you might use. I used EndNote as well during my MA degree but found it somewhat inefficient and inflexible, so I’m glad there are alternatives now.
I was intrigued by the multiple uses of EverNote that came up during class. There’s collaborative research, as Claudia talked about, and also the organization of notes for one’s oral exams, as someone else mentioned. I was also thinking that it would be great for developing a virtual portfolio of teaching resources. Teaching means constantly being on the look-out for things once can use, and having them all easily tagged and in the same place (and shareable!) is much better than stuffing a them into a cardboard box or having them all jumbled up in a file labeled “Teaching” on your desktop.
Very useful presentation today. I have two lingering thoughts or suggestions. The first is a nitpicky point. Whenever a talk focuses on recommendations of specific software tools, I always worry about the future vitality of fledgling programs — learning, and tying up too much research and information in — a database program that (eventually) stops being supported (or will drop Mac support, as I’m a Mac user). Zotero seems like it’s relatively stable and has a lot of institutional support behind it. Evernote I’m less clear on, since it is a profit-based undertaking.
The second is methodological. As a literature student, I am especially prone to making substantive notes in the margins of books. Since I got an iPad, I have been using Goodreader to annotate and highlight PDF texts in the same way. I’m not sure yet if there’s an easy way to extract marginalia and highlights from this program and incorporate them with other note-taking platforms, but if anyone has advice about this — or about databasing marginalia, generally — it would be appreciated.
Try “Webnotes” I’m not sure if it Works on an iPad…but I know it does on a Mac. I’m not sure if this is exactly what you are looking for, but see my comment below for more details
I share Erik’s concern about the future of the various programs. I’m just starting my dissertation and have begun using Zotero for collecting bibliographical data as well as taking notes on both primary and secondary sources. I like Zotero’s tagging capabilities and its ability to capture source citations while browsing the Internet. It’s disconcerting though to think about the future accessibility of the information. Has anyone out there completed a substantial research project using one of these tools? How can one safeguard against information tragedies — like the company going away?
As more texts are examined on computers and iPads, what programs exist out there for dealing with marginalia? Is there a way to mark up a digital text in a similar fashion to having a hardcopy? Also, as an undergraduate, I don’t have much experience with research beyond a few weeks project, how much will these new tools help academics working on PhDs or in their professional careers? Will it double the efficiency of academics or less dramatic gains?
Cloud computing is changing our digital life in a good way. Dropbox is a great tool that saves me the trouble of carrying USB disk. Evernote is so powerful that I am even willing to pay the monthly fee to have the extra space. This is what works for me best: I take note in lectures with pen and paper. Then I use my phone’s evernote app to take photos of my notes, which is automatically saved distantly. I can access it anytime and anywhere. Zotero is useful too, but the problem is many library data was not correctly or perfectly input in the first place. Every time Zotero generates a bibliography, I still have to go back to revise extensively. I hope it could become better.
I have been using dropbox, zotero, evernote and goodreader in Ipad for some time and they are absolutely helpful. I almost forget about Microsoft Word now,for I wrote everything in Google doc. Despite all the convenience, I did have trouble updating and synchronizing my files in all these program, and often ended up with different versions of the same file in different program. My take on this is that never to be technophobia, but not completely rely on it. My reservation is not their vitality—the worst case scenario for these company is to end up purchased by others. But as I see it, organized people are always organized whether they make use of cloud computing or not.
Do folks have recommendations about which of these tools are best for group projects, in particular? I find that’s when I run into real trouble (of course, this may be a distinctly undergraduate problem). Dropbox is nice, but it’s difficult to track teammates’ edits. I find Google Docs to be a little messy and prone to overproliferation. And we all get too much email. Coursework is bad…and so on.
Beyond these more nitpicky issues, though, I wonder how teachers can help their students do better group work – work more closely aligned with higher academic standards. I don’t see a lot of support for that right now, perhaps because profs are figuring out these digital tools too.
One program which I have found very useful when doing research is “Webnotes.” This wasn’t one that was mentioned in class, but I find it to still be a very useful database. Erik, I’m not sure how entirely thorough your notes are, but this program does save all the comments you write and highlight, and essentially makes a notebook out of them. The program uploads PDF’s and lets you annotate from there. I have only found two specific problems with it:
1. It is a program that you must purchase (though there is a trial program that I used and does last about a month if I remember correctly).
2. It can often run really slow and crash. However, this was in the trial version, and the paid version may have a better system.
I wonder whether learning about this kind of database management should become a part of the undergraduate experience. Would being taught about bibliography management systems or EverNote be helpful in, say, PWR, or is this something that doesn’t need to be learned until attempting graduate-level/size research projects? As an undergrad, I haven’t used any of these tools yet, but I also wasn’t familiar with them until this class.
Also, while I really like the idea of cloud computing, I would have to echo some of the criticisms about programs like Google Docs–which I’ve often had freeze or lag. Has anyone found good cloud service that have easy synchronizing or transferring to other programs?
One concern I have with cloud computing and online databases in general is the increased security risk that comes along with it. It seems to me that cloud computing also opens up a wide range of possibilities for hackers and infringement of intellectual property. I think that an integration into the undergraduate experience would be helpful, but I also think that those being introduced to various forms of online data management need to be made aware of the various security risks that exist, and what they can do to minimize those risks.