Over the last weeks I had a chance to complete a personal project I've been working on for a while: www.resquotes.com. This is a personal information management site that allows one to collect and organise snippets of text ('highlights') made while reading digitally.
It's an alpha release, still much untested and rough around the edges, so I'd encourage anyone interested in the topic to play with it and get in touch with questions or feedback or even proposals to collaborate so to make it better.
These days anyone who's reading and studying as part of their daily routine is probably doing it via some digital device too. May that be an e-reader like the Kindle, or just the default pdf viewing software that comes with a mac or pc. Digital reading saves lots of time, in many cases, but also makes it very cumbersome to annotate texts and especially keep track of these annotations.
Resquotes.com comes out of this experience: I needed a way to save and organise the important snippets I read and wanted to be able to get back to, sometime in the future, even if I didn't know when.
This is the same spirit (I assume!) that made Chomsky write these words in one of his latest works:
..reading a book doesn’t just mean turning the pages. It means thinking about it, identifying parts that you want to go back to, asking how to place it in a broader context, pursuing the ideas. There’s no point in reading a book if you let it pass before your eyes and then forget about it ten minutes later. Reading a book is an intellectual exercise, which stimulates thought, questions, imagination.
Likewise, all the hours spent reading PDF files and Kindle books felt to me not as beneficial as they could have been - unless I had a way to collect and get back to the quotes that caught my attention in the first place.
In a nutshell, ResQuotes currently allows to import text snippets, either from the web or from your Kindle, and use them to create collections of related content via topics and folders.
A topic is like the main gist a quote is about. Topics can (and are supposed to) be reused and provide a basic organising mechanism for the quotes one saves. So, you can have many quotes on the topic of 'science teaching in the 20th century', or on 'information architecture'.
So you can have a Topic page which collects together a bunch of quotes which focus on the same idea or concept.
Quotes and topics can be added to the application in two main ways. Either by filling out a web form...
...or by extracting it directly from your Kindle.
Once you've imported a bunch to stuff into the system you will be able to search for it or organize it further using collections.
That allows also to automatically create 'topic maps' based on the relatedness and similarity between quotes and topics.
Difficult to say what is going to happen next. I'd like to add more import mechanisms, download options, improvements to the way collections are created. But really, I'd like to get more feedback from real users!
So please please please - send me comments if you have any (by the way, next week I'll be in Oxford (UK) giving a demo of the app at the Force11 conference in Oxford).
Happy reading with resquotes.com!
Cite this blog post:
Industry Track, International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC-17), Vienna, Austria, Oct 2017.
Digital Humanities Quarterly, Jan 2017. Volume 11 Number 1
Force11 - Research Communications and e-Scholarship conference, Oxford, UK, Jan 2015.
Collaborative Annotation in Shared Environments: Metadata, vocabularies and techniques in the Digital Humanities (workshop co-located with ACM DocEng 2013 Conference), Florence, Sep 2013.
Digital Humanities 2013, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Jul 2013.
Lecture slides from the Course on digital history, part of the master in Digital Humanities at King's College, London., Oct 2011.
Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Information - Proceedings of the 30th International Ludwig Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg, Austria, Aug 2007. pp. 319-335
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