In an effort to inflict some discipline on my writing habits and to share interesting historical happenings I discover about my hometown area, I have been writing a local history column about Aurora County, South Dakota, since January of 2013. It is published monthly in the weekly newspaper in Plankinton, the South Dakota Mail .
Three of these articles have now been posted on my blog. Newspaper articles don’t require bibliographies, so it is easy to be lazy and write without citing. The dragging pace with which I’ve posted my articles on this blog is directly attributable to my carelessness in maintaining strict records. My growing skill at using the digital tool Zotoro is helping – not only for this project, but in creating a discipline for future writing and research. This tool makes is easier to record the source when I first use it and to note when I am using that source for a particular report or article. Zotoro is a tool that manages sources, such as books, newspapers, web sites, etc., and helps organize sources into collections, allows note-taking, and generates citations and bibliographies based on many different types of styles.
Recently, I gave a (little over) thirty minute presentation on this tool to my Digital History class. The time I spent preparing was well worth it -as I picked up several new tricks. I was especially thrilled to realize one could create an entire bibliography with a few clicks of the mouse. Adding sources from Amazon, Jstor or any web site is very easy. Adding a book by simply typing in the ISBN number and obtaining all the bibliographic detail was a nice Eureka that day. Any tool that saves me time and helps me organize is one that soon becomes a good friend. I encourage anyone doing serious research to take the time to learn this tool and enjoy of few of your own Eureka moments!
Oh, and, if you are interested, you could check out the first of my local history columns. Only eleven more to post – and, of course, more to write!