Saturday, October 08, 2005

Connotea and tags

I have finally started using Connotea from Nature Publishing Group. I'm not a big user of these types of "social" web services like or Flickr but I thought I would give this a try since I do a lot of reading and I would like a nice way of keeping scientific reading organized. Here is my Connotea library.
When I first started downloading pdf files of interesting papers (some years ago) I used to put them neatly into folders organized by subject. Then, when the google desktop search started indexing PDFs I started just putting everything in one folder and I search for it when I want it back. Both ways work ok but the second ends up being faster.
So why should I use a web based reference manager to keep track of the papers I am interested in ? For one, because it takes almost to time at all. This was one of the nicest things about it. Just highlight the papers' DOI with the mouse and click a bookmarklet. Put in a couple of tags to describe the paper and it's done.
One other advantage of using this is the possibility of sharing the load of finding interesting papers with other people in the site with guilt by association.

I would like to see two tools added to Connotea, one is label clusters, like you see in Flickr and the other would be a graph of related papers or authors, like you can see when you click a news in the CNET news site.

In general I think that the tag/label concept is presently one of the best user driven modes of organizing knowledge. It takes the individual very little time to help out and the outcome is a vast amount of organized information. It is also probably a standard by now and this means that a lot of tools will be built to take advantage of this. Right now the tagging efforts are behind walls but there is no reason not to fuse "tag space" among different domains. Instead of an RSS aggregator we could have tag readers across different services. There is already a nice "tag reader" for called direc.tor.
Another useful tool would be a program to automatically label a document according to my labeling practices (or to someone else's habits). The program could scan through all the stuff I had labeled in the past and learn how to label or at least suggest labels for this new document. It could therefore also label whatever is in my computer. It would be close to indexing but more personalized :).

Further reading on the subject? Start here.