Workflow Reflections of a Graduate Student
Currently, I use Safari as my web browser. I vaguely remember abandoning Firefox in frustration a couple of years ago, but William Turkel’s insistence on using Firefox in his post “A Workflow for Digital Research Using Off-the-Shelf Tools” makes me second guess my latter-day web choices—a grand switchover is imminent. I have a loosely organized bookmark system and use Google Reader, but otherwise my customization is pretty sparse. I intend to heed William Turkel’s advice and check out the suggested Merriam-Webster and Project Gutenberg add-ons.
For backup purposes I use Dropbox and Time Machine; I use Dropbox for current and shared projects and Time Machine to routinely update my external hard drive with all significant work on my computer. As a precaution I copy important documents onto a thumb drive while I’m working on them—my ancient MacBook (5 years +) is depleting in memory/functionality. If I feel lazy I simply email them to myself. I save my local copies of documents into organized file folders (.doc/.docx or .rtf format, usually). As for saving copies of online documents, I download PDFs when possible, I take screenshots of the non-downloadable and I still use—gasp—bookmarks! (I can feel Turkel frowning at me through his blog.) As well, Zotero is a resource I’ve been meaning to employ for a while now. I will certainly engage with Zotero in the near future, after the return to Firefox is completed.
For writing purposes, I employ a system of Stickies, TextEdit, and Microsoft Word. While researching, I take notes and record significant quotations from whatever document I’m working with onto a Stickie (or multiple Stickies), and I keep all of the relevant (floating, transparent) Stickies open while writing. The presence and ability to navigate between both my working document and research notes in one screen is tremendously useful. Turkel’s suggestion to use Scrivener opened my eyes to the available alternatives to good ol’ Word and TextEdit. I’ve now downloaded the Scrivener trial and am looking forward to playing with it. Scrivener gracefully consolidates and refines my Stickies/Microsoft Word/TextEdit process into one program.
Turkel’s “How To” has illuminated the vast amount of resources available to me that my workflow currently lacks. Although I engage in various technologies in many parts of my life, I have apparently been resisting these technologies where it probably matters most—in the facilitation of an easeful, productive workflow. I feel confident in my digital search capabilities as outlined by Turkel, but I do not use the Internet to its full advantage in terms of trapping, spidering, online citation, and even simple word processing.
Author: Alyssa Arbuckle
Word Count: 435
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