I am fascinated with the possibilities that Google + and Hangouts offer the genealogy community. And, with the new mobile apps things are getting even better. Hangouts gives us all the flexibility of Apple’s FaceTime but without the only-Apple-devices limitations. I am especially fascinated with the Communities feature and the potential they offer. Pat and Russ are the pioneers in this area with the DearMYRTLE community. There’s a lot to be learned from their examples – and their always informative Hangouts on Air.
I’ve noticed a RootsMagic Users community along with communities for African-American Genealogy, Cemetery Photography, Evidentia users and Civil War Research. I find these focused communities much more interesting than the generic genealogy or family history ones. Right now I belong to the Evernote community which is very informative, but I have to wade through a lot of things that don’t apply to my use of Evernote to find each nugget I can use. Having an Evernote in Genealogy community would put the focus closer to my needs while still being broad enough to cover any number of genealogical uses. So I built it.
If you’re using Evernote as a research tool, I hope you will join us at Evernote in Genealogy and share your experiences, tips and best practices.
I’m also looking forward to discovering even more topic-focused communities in genealogy and family history. This could get very interesting (and useful) very quickly.
I am fascinated with the number of small histories becoming available through various public domain digitizing projects. By “small” I mean histories targeting a particular event, military unit or person. Memoirs, regimental histories, journals and genealogies are showing up regularly. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the volunteers digitizing all these fabulous publications are focused on the process and often the catalog record only lists the most basic of information.
Wandering the stacks at the local library or book store is a delightful experience. Books are organized by topic and displays are designed to catch your eye and your interest. If a title or cover looks interesting, there’s the teaser to help you decide if this is the book for you. Browsing has always been a fun way to find my next read.
Browsing a digital library leaves a lot to be desired. If you know which book you want, it’s easy to find using the library’s search feature, but looking for inspiration can be a challenge. Barnes & Noble has the best online storefront. Each book has a synopsis, editorial and customer reviews, information about the author and recommendations for other similar books. And, thanks to e-books, we can now often download a sample to see if this is what we want. It’s a delight to wander through this digital display trying to grab both my attention and my cash. Why can’t public domain libraries provide a similar experience?
Actually, some of them can. The infrastructure is in place to provide much of this information. They just need some help in pulling it all together. One of my favorite online libraries is ManyBooks. It’s a great spot to find both fiction and research titles – all of them in the public domain so you can download them at no cost. Once you’ve registered, you can build your own collections – called bookshelves – or add them to your GoodReads collection if you are so inclined. You can download the book in any number of electronic formats so they are all readable on just about any e-reader. I find the reviews especially useful and, since anyone can add a review, it’s a good way to give back to the community. You can also subscribe to their RSS feed and learn when new books are added to the library. I have found journals, memoirs, military histories and biographies are regularly added to this library. It’s also been my experience that the e-books are better quality – better formatting, fewer typos, etc. – than many other public domain libraries.
Other public domain digital libraries include:
- Project Gutenberg is one of the oldest and largest collections of digital books. It’s search feature is a joy to behold, but each book page is limited to basic bibliographic data and the list of format options available for download. If you know what you’re looking for, this is a good place to find it.
- Internet Archive collections include video, audio and music along with texts and while each book’s page is basic bibliographic stuff, their Open Library project provides an editable catalog of all their books in a very user-friendly format. Users are encouraged to add descriptions, reviews and other information about the book.
- Feed Books has a limited collection of non-fiction, but if you’re looking for some affordable pleasure reading, this is a good place. It has descriptive information along with the bibliographic stuff and readers often use the comments to review books. As with ManyBooks, Feed Books quality is a notch above many of the public domain collections.
These are just some of the online libraries offering digital editions of books useful in your research. The number of universities and associations building digital libraries is growing daily. We’ll take a look at how to find and manage their information in future articles.
The folks at Digg have announced they are working on a reader to replace Google Reader. According to their blog post, it was already on the todo list but is now a priority item on that list. It will be interesting to see what they produce.
Google just launched Keep – an app for grabbing stuff and saving it to your Google drive. Like Om Malik, I’m not impressed:
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Google may think it can waltz into a market that Evernote and others have staked out, but I’m not going to dance.
I’m a very satisfied Evernote Premium customer and I’m quite happy to pay for that privilege knowing that it won’t be shut down like Reader as soon as all the competition has been destroyed.
Are too many apps getting you down? How would you like to have one app that can be used to write and send a note to Evernote (or Simplenote, Things, OmniFocus, DayOne and more), a tweet to Twitter or Tweetbot, an update to Facebook or an email to anyone? Drafts [iPad - $3.99, iPhone - $2.99] does all that and more.
When you open Drafts, you’re presented with a blank note – ready to start typing. Type your note, then tap on the share icon at the top of the screen. The share panel slides out from the right as you see here.
But that’s just the beginning. It took a look at the apps installed on my iPad and added them to the list.
We’re not finished yet! Tap the Open in . . . item for even more.
So, if I want to post the same update to Twitter and Facebook, I type it once in Drafts and share it as many times and places as I want. All it’s missing is a scheduling function.
Oh, and it includes TextExpander support too. At first I was a bit miffed that I had to buy separate apps for the iPad and iPhone, but it didn’t take long to realize that they’re well worth the price. It doesn’t take long to find all kinds of uses for this app.
I just discovered yet another reason to have the free Kindle Desktop Reader app installed on your computer. I’m working on some articles on Scrivener and I had one of my Scrivener books open in the desktop reader. I wanted to copy a bit of information into my article notes in Evernote so I used the book’s copy command to copy the text as you see in the example below.
Copying some text from a book in Kindle’s desktop reader for the Mac.
The surprise came when I pasted that text into an Evernote note. Not only did I get the text I had copied, I also got a nice little citation describing the source. Love it!
Text copied to an Evernote note.
Although I don’t use the desktop reader to do any serious reading, it is very handy when I am writing and frequently need to refer to one of my tech or reference books. And, it’s now become a handy way to pull notes from a reference book so I can organize them in an Evernote notebook.
Izik is a free app for the iPad that takes search to new levels. The best way I can describe it is Flipboard for searching. Izik was created by blekko, Inc. – the search engine company. As you can see in the example below, search results are organized into categories. You swipe left or right to view additional articles/images within a category and swipe up or down to move between categories. The categories displayed will depend on the search and its results.
Click on any item and you are taken to the originating site using a simple browser built into the app. From here you can share the item via Facebook or Twitter or open it in Safari. I understand that developers are planning to include an email option in future updates. Already impressive, I’m looking forward to watching this app mature.