Last month in a post about closing the digital research circle, I wrote about using the iPad to read, take notes on pdf files and integrate those files into a bibliography program. We are still some distance from the vision of the closed research circle, however, there are some positive new developments.
First, I upgraded my Zotero account by buying 1GB of storage. This allowed me to transfer all my citations along with their pdf files to the Zotero servers. This was a decisive step because now, when I access my Zotero libraries through the web, I can read the pdf files directly from the Zotero servers.
This is important because now through Safari on the iPad, I can access those files directly and read them right there on the iPad or iPhone, for that matter.
My research assistant, Josh Testa, and I have begun using a closed but shared group library to collect articles. He is gathering them together in the shared group, leaving me notes as to what he thinks is relevant in the article to the book project on which I am working, and I can view both the pdf files and his notes online.
I am still missing an integrated way to annotate the pdf files, but we are moving in the right direction here. The iAnnotate program on the iPad is improving, but the manner in which files are transfered remains unwieldy. What I really need is a way to pull the pdf files from the Zotero server onto the iPad, annotate them, and have them sync back up with the Zotero database. If the Zotero database functioned more like Dropbox does on the iPad, and if Dropbox had the functionality of iAnnotate built into it, then we would be very close.
As it stands, I am nevertheless excited to see how the group library Josh and I are working on will grow and, in particular, how this sort of collaboration will shape my work in unanticipated ways.