Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Automatic Source Citations & Zotero

A colleague just pointed me to as an interesting approach to handling source citations. While they don't seem to have turned their attention toward genealogy, their approach looks promising for taking us closer to automatic source citations.

Zotero is an open source project sponsored by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. You install a plug-in to your browser and then when you're looking at something you want to cite you just click the icon in your address bar. It handles multiple citations on the same page, allows you to edit citations, add notes, attach files, take a snapshot of the content or just point to it. Check out their demo.

For this all to work the site needs to have the citation information available in a form that zotero understands. Rather than force you to use their specification their architecture allows you to create your own translator that maps your citation format to zotero and then it just works. I'd love to see some of the major online genealogical repositories invest the small amount of work required to support zotero. At the same time vendors of record managers and other family history applications could integrate with zotero and the automatic source citation problem is solved.