07 May 2011

EndNote vs Zotero -- Battle Royale, ProfHacker Style

Here's a really nice head-to-head synthesis of the two most popular ebiblio platforms in academe. Per usual, the folks at ProfHacker (specifically Brian Croxall) have provided a witty, thoughtful, relatively thorough, yet surprising concise exploration of the topic at hand (complete with tangentially relevant photograph). While the entire article is useful, for me the most powerful section arrives at the end of the second paragraph. Upon explaining his dissonant roles as Zotero evangelist, but EndNote user, Croxall explains, "So when it came time to write my dissertation, EndNote was already well integrated into my workflow. I began experimenting with Zotero in the fall of 2007 (a year after its first release) and while I very much appreciated what it did, it wasn’t enough to make me a convert." Extrapolating a bit, I think we can reframe this as applicable to all new (and potentially wonderful, time-saving, and generally mind-blowing) technologies. Rewritten as:
So when it came time to ___________________ (insert name of project/paper/task/etc.), ___________________ (insert name of familiar technology/process/etc.) was already well integrated into my workflow. I began experimenting with ___________________ (insert name of newfangled technology/process/gadgetry/etc.) in ___________________ (insert time of discovery) and while I very much appreciated what it did, it wasn't enough to make me a convert.
These subtle tweaks reiterate the sort of cost-benefit analysis (or perhaps it is more analogous to return on investment -- not a economic whiz kid, I'm not entire sure which is most appropriate here) for pedagogical and intellectual approaches to technologies (writ large) that I hopeful emphasized during class this semester. There are numerous technologies/approaches/processes/etc. for each and every project/paper/task/etc. that we are charged with accomplishing. In all likelihood, they all have some wonderful, time-saving, project-improving benefits. That said, each technology/approach/process comes with a learning curve. Some are steep and quick, while others are gradual and require greater time resources. So, in short, figure out what works best for you and your given situation. It probably isn't a great idea to "start...playing around with [insert technology/process/etc/]...(as a way to procrastinate rather than actually writing papers)" while writing the final chapter of your dissertation (or other major project). Remember, know thy self. Figure out what works best for you when approaching particular endeavor. And don't forget that these are variables that can (and will) change over time or with different projects. It is a never-ending process of adaptation that exists on a fluid continuum.

What about Mendeley, Sente, Bookends, and the multitude of other ebibliography platforms available? Does anyone have comments, questions, curiosities, lived experiences to share?