Help Zotero by donating, your contribution will be matched by an anonymous donor

June 4th, 2009 by jose

Exciting that an anonymous donor jumped in: image

Donate to CHNM in June and your contribution will be matched twice over. Thanks to a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Center for History and New Media has the rare opportunity to build a $3 million endowment to support infrastructure expenses and ongoing development across its many projects. We’re delighted to announce that now your contribution to the Center for History and New Media will be matched for a limited time. If you give within the month of June your donation will be stretched even further since an anonymous donor has agreed to double the National Endowment for the Humanities matching funds.

If you or your institution used/still pays hundred of dollars per seat on other bibliography manager, consider donations of similar size. If you can raise awareness in your institution, please do so. Zotero is a project that benefits all (Open source) and has been legally attacked (in a childish way) by Thomson before.

Zotero Blog » Blog Archive » Help Zotero by Donating to the Center For History and New Media

Science Online London 2009

June 4th, 2009 by dario

If you are interested in scientific blogging and collaborative tools for research and happen to be in the UK this summer, here’s an event not to be missed:

science online london

Science Online London 2009 will explore the latest trends in science online. How is the Web affecting the work of researchers, science communicators, journalists, librarians, educators, students? What can you do to make the best use of the growing number of online tools?

The event is cohosted by Mendeley and Nature Network. More information available here:

CiteULike + BibDesk: Sync your references and live smarter

June 3rd, 2009 by dario


It should be no surprise that many of us love Zotero, especially since they added support for reference sharing and synchronization.

I am probably the only exception in the AP team. As a longstanding MacTeX user, I keep my references organised with BibDesk, one of the sweetest pieces of (open source) software ever written for TeX users working on Mac OS. When hunting for references, I use CiteULike as a fast and effective solution to bookmark and tag papers. My workflow usually starts with an exploratory phase based on CiteULike. As soon as I have read a paper and need to cite it, I export its reference from CiteULike into BibDesk, filing the PDFs with the help of the autofile functionality in BibDesk. So far I have been quite happy with this workflow even if it involves a little bit of fiddling to correctly import references into my local library.

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Google Wave could fix collaborative editing and mail at the same time

May 30th, 2009 by jose

The general agreement is that mail is broken. We all use it but kind of hate it too. Well, it seems that Google came up with a very good alternative (ambitious, and technically impressive): .

A long video of Wave’s capabilities .

It’s very long at 1:20hrs, but worth it. It’s peppered with random bouts of applause, something I’ve never seen in a scientific/technical presentation before. About minute 1:04, Lars Rasmussen presents real-time translation and he gets about a minute of standing ovation.

Why is this important for academics? Looks like sending a word document back and forth with version numbers in the file name is no fun. And setting a VCS with a bunch of .tex files plus figures is not much better (mainly because doing diffs on LaTeX files is pretty horrible). One could always convince a collaborator to use Google Docs, but then you have no way to use a proper reference manager, figures are a mess, etc. In short, scientific paper collaboration is not really pleasant right now.

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Human Task Switches Considered Harmful – Joel on Software

May 30th, 2009 by jose

This old post from Joel is just a fancy way of saying what psychologists studying task switching have found: it’s better to do things in batches. This is also something that GTD, Do It Tomorrow, and other productivity methods attest. The whole point of tagging things with contexts in GTD is to be able to do all related things at once (when you are in a certain context).

But wow much better is batching? Well, here’s where things gets blurry. Most task switching experiments are done with extremely simple tasks, like pressing a key when a triangle is red, and another when it’s blue vs. a similarly abstract task.

  So we know surprisingly little about what tasks gain the most from being done in batches. But this reflects a more profound lack on our theory: what is a task? How similar are two tasks? For example, how similar is driving a car to driving a bike?

A dirty operational definition would be that two tasks are ScreenShot 002 Human Task Switches Considered Harmful - Joel on Software - Mozilla Firefox more similar the more they gain when done in the same batch. However, as far as I know nobody has tested this idea. And there’s a big ‘but’: sometimes similar tasks interfere with each other. Try singing a song and writing a different song on a pentagram. Or brushing your teeth and combing at the same time. So this operational definition doesn’t seem to work well.

Why is studying multitasking important? Well, if you have a browser open while you work, you know the answer already.

Do you know of any interesting multitasking studies that use realistic materials?

Human Task Switches Considered Harmful – Joel on Software