Monday, June 07, 2010

Meta-social-network-problem

First, are you a grad student? Or anyone else who reads a lot of PDF's, and needs to save PDF's as well as metadata on all of them in the cloud, and maybe organize them in cool ways? How do you do it? What software do you use?

Second, how do I best broadcast the above request? I want it to go to everyone I know, but low-priority, so they just ignore it if they don't know. Blog -> Facebook, Buzz, and RSS reader, but it's in facebook as a "note", so most people may not read it. I think Twitter also -> Facebook and Buzz, but I'm not sure. In this case, I solved it by blasting everywhere. HI INTERNET I HAVE SOMETHING TO ASK YOU.

Oh nevermind, this is exactly the use case for Aardvark.

9 comments:

meanerelk said...
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meanerelk said...
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meanerelk said...

Wow. what the hell happened?

Dan Tasse said...

Good question.

Dan Tasse said...

Kemal: have you tried Mendeley? After a couple hours of trying stuff, it seems head and shoulders above the rest.

You're right about CiteULike's interface, it's rather sad. Perhaps the Greasemonkey script would help, but I'm rather attached to Chrome. Also, CiteULike just saves references, not full PDF's, right? I'd like to keep the PDF's around; you don't have to deal with ACM BS (or if so, only once) and if the author's site moves or something, you still have it.

Zotero seems like an option too, but again, it's a Firefox extension, so I didn't try it.

Evernote and Dropbox put things into the cloud, but they're not made for academic papers, and after seeing what Mendeley and CiteULike can do, I don't want to go back.

Devonthink and Papers are Mac-only. Forget it. I gave DevonThink a 5-minute try, but it seems like the Photoshop of paper-management: a billion features, and impossible to do simple tasks without studying it for hours. Maybe it's great if you learn it, but I don't think I'll need to because:

Mendeley looks really great. They've got a win/mac/linux app that you download, as well as a web interface. I think if you had to do everything via the web, it'd be just a little better than CiteULike. But you don't; the client app is pretty good. (in general, I figure client apps are on the way out, but academic paper management may be one of those complicated tasks, like image editing, that may still require the complexity of a client app.)

The one downside is that you only get 500mb of storage. But they're planning to let you buy more in the future, and if it's as good as it seems, I might just do that.

So Mendeley it is! After I use it for a few months, I'll probably post again to let you know how it goes.

Dan Tasse said...

Weird. Whenever I try to delete the tombstone of one of your comments, they all vanish. And then when I post a new comment, they all come back. (knock on wood.)

meanerelk said...

Dan, you just made my life so much easier. Mendeley looks really great. It took only a few minutes to sync it with my CiteULike account.

I've made a watch folder. Whenever I add a pdf, it gets added to my collection, renamed and copied to my 'Papers' folder, and added to my Bibtex file.

Life is good.

meanerelk said...

Of course, life could always get better. One feature I would LOVE is to navigate a paper's citation graph.

When I'm reading a paper, I want to be able to see all papers it cited, and all papers that cited it. And I want to read those papers without going to the browser and jumping through hoops to download them.

That would cover 90% of any literature searches I do.

Dan Tasse said...

Cool, glad you like it! I look forward to sharing papers with you, or something.

"I want to read those papers without going to the browser and jumping through hoops to download them."
Yeah. That'd be pretty awesome in general. There should be an API to Google Scholar or something where you give it parameters (title, authors, whatever) and it returns either null or a PDF. Then apps like Mendeley could call into it and cut out all the ACM/dig through author's page/etc.