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Danny Zacharias – The Wired Scholar

May 9, 2007

Danny Zacharias provides some great advice for the “wired scholar.” His article The Wired Scholar: Five Free Tools You May Not Know About provides 5 online tools that enhance research and productivity – here are some excerpts:

Google Books
Google Books, which has been discussed previously on The SBL Forum, continues its aggressive effort to digitize books and make them available for public searching. A Google executive has stated that they aim to make every book ever published full-text searchable within ten years. This developing resource has already made itself indispensable, and its value will only increase. In addition to searching inside books, Google Books, along with (also mentioned on The SBL Forum), now makes freely available texts that are in the public domain. Most of J. P. Migne’s Patrologia Graeca and Patrologia Latina are now available online for viewing (and downloadable as PDF’s), the first twenty-eight volumes of Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft are available, as well as many other treasures from the likes of Albert Schweitzer, Hermann Gunkel, Julius Wellhausen, and C. H. Dodd, to name but a few.

Google Scholar
Google Scholar is a heavily used search tool that indexes the vast majority of periodicals that are available online. Google Scholar also indexes the articles themselves, if they are available online, although a user needs to have access through a library or personal subscription to read or download them. The obvious advantage of Google Scholar over against something like ATLA is that it is free and takes the user immediately to the access point for the article. The limitation, again comparing it to ATLA, is that there are a number of periodicals that ATLA has indexed but have little or no online presence, so they are absent from Google Scholar.

Google Docs
Supported Browsers: Firefox and Internet Explorer
Google Docs, which is still in its beta phase, is a fully functional online word processor and spreadsheet program. Google Docs is free. Users have an unlimited amount of space for storing documents, though documents are currently restricted to 500kb in size. Google Docs can import .doc, .rtf, .html, .txt, and .odt (Open Office) documents. Once imported, these documents can be edited online. Files can be exported from Google Docs to the supported import formats, as well as to .pdf. Documents can also be emailed. Every Google Docs account receives a unique email address for easy importing. All the user needs to do is attach a document to an email and send it to the Google Docs email address, and the document will be imported. Google Docs users can also enable right-to-left text in the Google Docs settings to support Hebrew, Aramaic, and other right-to-left unicode scripts. Unicode Hebrew can be imported and inputted within Google Docs. The only limitation is the small number of fonts available in Google Docs, which can sometimes make for imperfect presentation of Hebrew, particularly vowel pointing. But any potential pointing problems are solved when a document is exported and a more suitable unicode font is chosen for the Hebrew characters in a word processor. If a user imports non-unicode Greek or Hebrew into Google Docs, it will not display properly, but will revert to roman.

Google Notebook
Supported Browsers: Firefox and Internet Explorer
Google Notebook is a free application that allows users to collect online content into one easily accessible place. After installing the plugin for Firefox or Internet Explorer, the user will see an access link to Google notebook in the lower left part of the browser. With a single click, users can now store information into their notebook. The collection process is very simple: highlight a portion of text in the web browser, right-click the highlighted portion, and choose the option to “note” the information in Google Notebook. The selection of text, called a clipping, is now in the user’s Google Notebook. Clicking on the link to the Google Notebook in the lower half of one’s browser will open a mini-window and show the item(s) most recently saved. From there, users can make a quick comment about the clipping in the comments section, if they so choose. Google Notebook attaches the reference (the URL) of the clipping, so users are aware of the source of the information. Unfortunately, Google Notebook does not yet put a timestamp on the clipping so a user can know when the information was copied. Users can also type their own notes directly into Google Notebook.

LibraryThing has quickly become a popular tool on the Internet for cataloging one’s books. A user can rate his books, write a review of them, and tag them with keywords according to content. It is free with a limit of two hundred books, but users can catalog an unlimited number of books with LibraryThing for a small fee. Importing books is as simple as searching for a title, but users can also import a large list of books by uploading a plain text, Excel, or EndNote file. Aside from the sheer amusement that this tool can bring for bibliophiles, LibraryThing is also described as the social network for the intelligent, for several reasons: (1) LibraryThing lets one know if other users have the same or similar collections; (2) one can join discussions surrounding books; (3) one can get a sense of what others think about certain works; and (4) it can also help users find books that had previously been unknown — both by browsing other users’ collections and via LibraryThing’s recommendations. If a user maintains a website, LibraryThing also comes with a number of tools that can be used to display cataloged books (see an example here). LibraryThing also connects to a service called Ottobib, which can generate a book’s information in APA, MLA, or Turabian format. A user’s collection can be exported to disk in an excel-supported document.

These are just excerpts.  You should read the whole thing.

(HT: NT Gateway)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2007 4:04 am

    Another related service for fully automated bibliography generation is It lets you cite books, articles, websites, and films without having to enter all the info for most items.

  2. jbstarke permalink*
    May 10, 2007 11:53 am

    Great! Thanks for the reference.

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