Regular readers of this blog know that over the last year I have been trumpeting our forthcoming software tool for research that will enable vastly simplified citation management, note taking, and advanced scholarly research right within the Firefox browser. Over the past year, I have called this tool SmartFox, Firefox Scholar, and Scholar for Firefox. The domain for the original name was already taken, and the latter two names were too confusing (“Is that the same as Google Scholar?”). Last Friday, a final name was given to the project, a website launched, and a lucky group of people received the first beta. The word that will be on everyone’s lips this fall: Zotero (zoh-TAIR-oh).
I’ll write much more in this space about Zotero over the coming year (and beyond), since I conceive it not just as a free EndNote replacement (actually, it’s already much better than EndNote in only its 1.0 release), but as a platform for new kinds of digital research. The best place to begin to see what Zotero can do is by heading over to the site’s home page and the quick start guide.
But I wanted to devote this first post on Zotero to those who did the incredible job of developing the software: Dan Stillman, Simon Kornblith, and David Norton. While several of us at the Center for History and New Media thought deeply about what such a tool should look like, Dan, Simon, and David brilliantly executed our plan—and added countless touches and ideas of their own. When you see how amazing the results are, you’ll really appreciate their work.
Even though we’ve been relatively low-key about promoting Zotero as we fix some last-minute bugs, I’ve gotten dozens of messages over the last few days about the project. My blanket answer: we’ll have a public beta by the end of September 2006—thanks, of course, to Dan, Simon, and David.
Stay tuned to this blog and I’ll explain some of the more innovative features of Zotero. I’ll also show how researchers can best use the tool, describe how other software developers can extend it and link it to other web tools and services, and drop hints about our ambitious long-range plans.