Digital Connections: Working Online

For those of us doing research online, tools that help us take notes, highlight, excerpt, and generally track our work are always worth checking out.

For this week’s “Digital Connection,” I’d like to suggest a couple of online tools I’ve found helpful in various projects.

Diigo provides a wide variety of resources, including letting you add virtual “sticky notes” to pages, highlight (most) web sites, and cut-and-paste content to a personal online clippings file. Since you can log into the website from any computer, your research files are always available to you. Diigo also provides you with a handy little bookmarklet you can add to your browser’s bookmarks bar as a shortcut to some functions, including highlighting and clipping. One of the handiest features about Diigo is that you can log in using your Twitter, Google, or Facebook username and password instead of creating an entirely new user profile.

QuickNote is another Diigo product, but works as an independent app through the Google Chrome app store. It provides you with the online equivalent of scratchpaper: a handy little yellow notepad that you can “scribble” on as you browse. You can add items under categories and arrange your notes if you like, or you can just keep a single long list. Things you enter in QuickNote can be crosslinked to your Diigo account if you want to be able to see all the content you’re creating from Diigo tools in one place.

The Readability widget, from the folks at Arc90, is a great tool to have if you do a lot of reading online and it’s one of my personal favorites. The widget — available as a free add-on to your browser (or you can pay for the full version which has a few more bells and whistles) sits in the bookmark bar of your browser. When you find yourself on a website you’d like to read, you just turn on Readability and turn a crowded website into a simple page of text. You can change margin widths, text size, even background and text colors to make your reading experience a lot more pleasant. If you choose to register for the full version, you can save articles to a reading list and get access to mobile versions of Readability as well as customize the textual appearance of the webpage.

Last, but certainly not least, traditional “to do list” functionality has also come online. One of the handiest tools I’ve found to cover this need is Remember the Milk (you can get an app to run the program in your Gmail account, too.) Remember the Milk allows you to create multiple “to do” lists and prioritize and date items on each list. You can move items from list to list and keep a current “inbox” of just what you need to work on now. The website will email you reminders — although you can turn this function off — and allow you to transfer items to an iCalendar if you choose.

Have I missed out on a great online tool? Please let me know in the comments!

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