Sunday, November 01, 2015

Digital workflow

One of the things I’m trying to do whilst I’m here at the Getty is to improve my digital workflow. I stopped worrying quite as much about what software I use and what operating system I use and I’m tending to concentrate more on the output.

I’m trying to ensure that my workflow can be used on any platform, Mac OS, LINUX, Windows. My basic workflow can be divided as follows;

  • mind mapping
  • bibliographic
  • note taking
  • writing
  • editing.

 Mind mapping.

I use mind mapping to plot out what I think I’m going to write, and then to plot out each section. My choice of mind mapping software is really only limited by the requirement that it can output as opml. I find that my first mind maps are really exploring my thoughts as they currently stand are and they change quite drastically over the course of my project. As an aside comment I also use mind maps for doing such things as stream proposals short reports Project planning in fact many things. It is essential that the mind mapping software also has a facility for adding notes to each of the nodes in the mind map the note field is equivalent to a paragraph in a written work. My current software of choice on a Mac’s thoughts, and on Windows or Lenox its simpleminded.  I find that I thoughts is nice and clean and has all of the export functionality that I need. It pains me that it is a Mac only product and is definitely not open source. Simple mind by contrast is not really very clean and particularly if you hook it into dropbox you can find that your files are all over the place and you’re unsure of which version is which it also is not open source. Open source products such as freemind, plane mind or Docear are also available.

At the end of this process I will have a very draughty outline of how I feel the paper is going to be written.


I try to do the majority of my bibliographic work online. Gone are the days when one could wander into a library and just find some books in the catalogue and then browse the shelves. Wherever possible I try to download the bibliographic data from wherever I have done the searches. On this current project I am finding the Getty’s online primo search to be invaluable. It allows me to look at what the Getty has in its collection first. Download the bibliographic data. And then spread the search wider.

For scientific papers I also use scope this and Google scholar. Please also don’t forget to use Google or being because both of these will capture when an academic has posted their papers to their own webpage. This can avoid the hassle of having to find something that is behind a pay wall. I tend to give open access periodical is a preference.

When I am searching the web I tend to capture my search results into Evernote and have a folder for each project the great thing about Evernote is that you can use it’s quite substantial search characteristics. The other wonderful thing about Evernote is that it will be accessible from any device that is network connected. Devon think is a product many people on Macs use but I find it too limited as it only works on one device and operating system.

Bibliographic software is quite crucial. I find that Zotero is best. Yes it doesn’t have a sexy interface but you can use it for collecting both bibliographic data from papers and also cataloguing appropriate blogs and academic websites. For capturing websites you need to use as tarot within Firefox. When I’m not capturing websites I tend to use is Zotero stand-alone.

Note taking

 If I’m not very careful I tend to end up with notes scattered all over the place, notebooks, digital notepads, scraps of paper and wood documents. What I have managed to do with this project is limit my note taking to Zotero, and within PDFs filed in Zotero.  I use is Zotfile to extract annotations, and store them in Zotero. I feel find that when I am reading a book or a large paper that it is useful to use speech recognition to record my comments in a text file. That text file can then be pasted into is Zotero as a note.

Obviously as I go through lit reading the literature and taking notes I will be having some brainstorms. Depending on where I am I will record these in Google Doc, or Google notes. From there they can easily be copied to’s Zotero  or they can be used to modify my mind maps.


I use scriveners as my writing program of choice. All of my notes will be copied into the research section of my Scriven file. The outline of the mind map will be exported as OPM L and will provide the basic structure for my ritual written document. My notes bibliographic data and other thoughts can now be used to assist with my writing.

Again use voice recognition rather than typing for a majority of my written work. Currently I use Dragon product for my voice recognition. I must admit I get very frustrated with its constant demands to be updated and its constant inability to run on the present version of Mac OS without being updated. For some reason the cost of the updates always seems to be about the same as the cost of a brand-new version. Dragon would have to be one of the least open and most frustrating organisations to deal with as soon as there is a viable option I will use it.The main problem with using voice recognition software is that people think you’re rather mad sitting in a room talking to yourself. It can also be quite distracting for fellow workers in an open office space.


Once I have finished my writing I normally check the document over in Scribner making sure that all of the sections are falling as I want them, stations are inserted and that they flow in the way I want them. I then compile the document. This time I’m going to try and use the RTF function of is it Aero to identify my citations and insert them after compilation. We will see how this goes. I expect to do the final checking and editing in libra office having used scriveners compilation to libra office.

 I will also use the compilation function to export drafts of sections which can then be posted to this website for external comment. Again and experiment.

Let’s see how these last two sections go.


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