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How Do You Keep Track of Your Web-Based Research?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the better-than-a-bookmark dept.

The Internet 150

time961 asks: "I use the Web extensively to research a wide variety of topics (weird, huh?). However, much of the time I end up printing out web pages and filing them on paper, because that's the easiest way I know to say 'OK, that was interesting, I'll hold on to it until I actually do something about this topic'. Often, I'll run across something that seems relevant to a long-term project or interest and just want to grab it without even reading the details. Paper is OK for reading, browsing, and scribbling, but it's hard to search, it's heavy, and it's wasteful (and I yearn for a day when browsers can reliably print what's on the screen, instead of cutting it off at the margin because some designer doesn't understand layout!). How do others deal with organizing the results of browsing?"

Bookmarks and histories aren't the answer — they're not very good for searching, the UI isn't very good for, say, adding notes, and they don't work offline. Also, stale URLs are a huge problem — a key advantage of paper is that it doesn't randomly fade out in a few days (or decades), so a good solution would have to keep copies, not just references. I imagine something like a FireFox plug-in with a 'Remember This' button and some options for category, keywords, annotations, etc., but I'll bet there are more creative approaches, too."

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You want Google Notebook and a PDF printer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19268121)

That's it.

PDF (4, Informative)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268133)

First off, install a good PDF printer.

Re:PDF (printer) (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268179)

I agree. It's very handy to have. I keep records of my online bill payments that way too. It might not do away with the formatting problems though.

Re:PDF (1)

endianx (1006895) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268425)

Wow. Can't believe I never thought of that. Can you recommend one for Linux? And probably one for Windows as well. Thanks.

Re:PDF (2, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268473)

For Windows, I can recommend the following free solutions:

Hope this helps...

Re:PDF (1)

Morris Thorpe (762715) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268515)

Re:PDF (Mod up parent) (1)

Drubber (60345) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268871)

This looks great. Thanks for posting.

Re:PDF (2, Informative)

Phil John (576633) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268531)

For Windows there's either the paid route (Adobe Acrobat Suite), or you can use PDFCreator [] which uses ghostscript. GS used to produce really nasty looking output years ago on Windows (circa the late 90's), but that's not the case anymore.

For linux, print to ps then use something like ps2pdf (once again GhostScript).

Re:PDF (2, Informative)

BruceCage (882117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268557)

Under Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install cups-pdf

That's it, the printer stores the PDF files by default to ~/PDF but you can change this location in /etc/cups/cups-pdf.conf.

Re:PDF (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268609)

Others recommended a few good ones. If you're in the research arena and you print to PDF and are crazy about getting your layout precisely correct, I suggest you check out PrinceXML [] . Full XML+CSS to PDF printing. For printing random web pages you may get away with running the HTML SGML through Tidy to produce valid XHTML which you can pipe through PrinceXML, but something like cups-pdf will probably work easier for you.

Re:PDF (1)

GiMP (10923) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268953)

In Firefox, on Linux, you can check 'print to file' in the print dialog. This will save a postscript file, which is similar to PDF, and can be easily converted.

Re:PDF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19269469)

Wow, man! That Firefox truly is a brilliant polymath!

Re:PDF (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268497)

Should I buy it from from Santa Claus, or the tooth fairy?

Re:PDF (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268605)

I know this is heresy around these parts, but the other requirements of notes/annotations are met with the full version of Acrobat. I'm sure some of the free PDF readers also support notes and comments, but Acrobat is what I have here (comes lumped in with the Adobe Creative Suite).

Re:PDF (1)

thc69 (98798) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269301)

I'm pretty sure that Foxit Reader [] supports notes and comments. It is free (as in beer, I think not open source). It is very small and independent; I don't install it, I just put the 4mb "Foxit Reader.exe" in C:\Program Files and associate it with pdf files. It's fast, too.

Okay, I just checked, and it allows you to type over the PDF and save it but the free version leaves watermarks.

Media Server (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19268135)

Just save your 'research' to a nice media server or something and then you can do the 'hands on' stuff once the missus has left for work innit.

Re:Media Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19268385)

+1 Funny-cos-it's-true

Re:Media Server (1)

scuba_steve_1 (849912) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269117)

The downside with this and other approaches mentioned is that they do not seem to provide a way to easily visualize, associate, correlate, cross-reference, etc.

I have a friend who is an attorney and who performs extensive research against a wide array of source material...including the web...and he swears by Microsoft OneNote: aspx []

Yes, a Microsoft product...let the flames begin.

Errrr (0)

HawkingMattress (588824) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268157)

Ever heard of bookmarks ?
Of course one problem with them is that they can disappear or change between the moment you save them and the moment you use them. The obvious answer is to save a local copy (with wget, or whatever..) which will be easier to search than a paper... And you can still print it if you need.
Then you can easily search though all the pages you downloaded for the one which holds the information you need, which probably takes you a long time with paper...
Of course all those things are bloody obvious and i don't understand how they can make a ask slashdot headline. Or maybe I didn't understand something in your problem ?

Re:Errrr (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268463)

From the post:

Bookmarks and histories aren't the answer


Ever heard of bookmarks

You lose at slashdot!

Re:Errrr (1)

XenoPhage (242134) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268583)

You lose at slashdot!

Lose? I think not.. He's taken the slashdot evolution to the next level and doesn't even bother to read the summary..

Re:Errrr (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268717)

What do you mean "next level"? We already have lots of slashdotters whose approach is:

  1. Don't bother to read article title.
  2. Make lame inside joke.
  3. Get modded +1 funny for no reason.
  4. In Soviet Russia, ??? profits from you!

The "next level" beyond that would be replying to comments without even reading them. Oh wait, people already do that all the time.

Re:Errrr (1)

arachnoprobe (945081) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268931)

5. People who waste their time complaining about it instead of apply custom-made moderation rules.

Re:Errrr (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268511)

Ever heard of bookmarks ?

I have a shit load of bookmarks. The trouble is that after a while I forget about them. There are many times when I want look something up, Google it, and then bookmark it. When I look in my bookmarks, I'll have the exact same page bookmarked multiple of times. Maybe something in Firefox one day that'll tell you that your bookmarking something again? Utility to weed out dupes? Of course, in some cases I cross bookmark items because they fit in a couple of categories. Such as, 'MySQL' info in "Programming/Database" and in "Web Development"

New: Google Notebook (5, Informative)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268537)

Something that recently came out of Google and is ideal for this task; Google Notebook [] . You find sites with Google, now you can take notes from them with Google, and it integrates nicely into Google search. Unlike bookmarks you can search the notes you take and have the URLs ready and waiting, etc.

1. Why would I want to use Google Notebook?

With Google Notebook, you can browse, clip, and organize information from across the web in a single online location that's accessible from any computer. Planning a trip? Researching a product? Just add clippings to your notebook. You won't ever have to leave your browser window.

2. How do I get started?

Simple. Just sign in to the Google Notebook homepage with your Google Accounts username and password, then download the Google Notebook browser extension (if you haven't already). As soon as you restart your browser, you'll see a Google Notebook icon in the bottom-right corner of your browser window. Click on this icon to open your mini Google Notebook, where you can save all the clips of content you want.

Re:New: Google Notebook (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19268673)

Am I the only one getting a bit sick of Google Everything?

Re:New: Google Notebook (2, Funny)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268833)

My browser must be borken, I could not locate the Google Everything page.

Google Everything?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19269099)

Where do I get THAT?

Re:New: Google Notebook (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269307)

Sick of fresh, professionally designed, platform-independent, free Web 2.0 applications?

Re:New: Google Notebook (1)

XenoPhage (242134) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268685)

Google Notebook is on-line and depends on an outside source. So I have no real control over it... Nor can I access it offline.

That said, it does look pretty interesting, so I'm gonna give it a whirl.. :)

Re:New: Google Notebook (2, Informative)

biohack (955639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268787)

I was surprised not to see Google Notebook as one of the first answers, as it indeed works very well for organizing material found on the web. I guess, Slashdot is less of a Google fan club than many people assume it to be!

The FF extension makes saving "permanent" pages easy via a right-click option. For pages that may become inaccessible over time, the content of interest can be copy-pasted directly into the Notebook entry. And Google search options coupled with the possibility of creating multiple Notebooks (and sections within each Notebook) make sorting and reorganizing notes very straightforward.

Re:New: Google Notebook (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268989)

For quick annotating pages while browsing I use an extension called InterNote [] . It is part of the small details why I cant switch from Firefox to anOther PossiblE browseR Anyday.

Re:New: Google Notebook (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269125)

I discovered it a few days ago, I haven't found I needed it yet unfortunately. I thought it would be a great solution to a problem, but it seems the problem hasn't surfaced since I installed it.

Re:New: Google Notebook (1)

kramulous (977841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269217)

Used it, didn't like it.
This has been shitting me of for some time and I'm not an organised person. The important stuff I still use Endnote for. It is the only one that is freely available for me.
After saying that, I *have to* stop using Thunderbird because the Uni I work for is in bed with Microsoft. Must now use Outlook.
So please disregard the Endnote comment :(
Current state of disgruntle over.

Re:Errrr (1)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268889)

What I want is a tool that indexes every page I bookmark. (Better yet, indexes either every page I visit or put an "Index" button on the toolbar, or, best, make it user configurable.) Then I could search through only the pages I've visited to find information I know I've seen but can't remember where. It doesn't seem like this would be overly difficult to implement as a FF extension.

Hey, it's the 21st century (1)

edittard (805475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268167)

Hey, it's the 21st century - put them all in your blog.

Basket (1)

auxsvr (811165) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268169)

You can use basket of the KDE PIM package. It allows you to organize bookmars, text, images and other data effectively and consistently. It's like a sticky notes program, though with much more functionality and it allows to store and retrieve information very quickly. It also saves automatically and may have a few very disturbing bugs (I think the major one is a Qt bug), yet it's definitely worth enough for me to use it every day.

Re:Basket (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268271)

What bug is this?

Re:Basket (1)

auxsvr (811165) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268633)

It crashes kontact as soon as I create a basket or a sub-basket (basket-0.6.0-26 on openSUSE 10.2) and has several problems with the focus of the boxes that contain the information, some text appears twice at the bottom (I'm able to scroll past the window contents, instead of a blank area there appears text from the previous box, which makes things very confusing).

Zotero (3, Interesting)

Fruny (194844) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268171)

I imagine something like a FireFox plug-in with a 'Remember This' button and some options for category, keywords, annotations, etc.
Sounds like Zotero [] is what you're looking for.

Re:Zotero (1)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268677)

Thank you. I was hoping to find some nifty gems in this thread.

Re:Zotero (2, Informative)

Coan_teen (941463) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269027)

Zotero was developed at my alma mater, and we were the guinea pigs for it. The program has improved quite a bit since its early stages. It still sometimes has trouble recognizing that something is research, but in the instances where Zotero doesn't automatically give you the choice to copy the citation you can make a snapshot of the page. It's a nifty little add-on. The only problem with it is that you can't carry your research history from one machine to another like you can with the Google utility. The solution suggested to us by the Zotero Evangelist (yes, that's his job title, I love it) was that we install Firefox on a flash drive and carry the whole program around with us. They're working on a more viable option.

Bookmarks (1)

knewter (62953) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268183)

I myself have an extensive 'drawer' of bookmarks. I've installed the TinyMenu extension for firefox, and placed the bookmarks toolbar folder on the same row as the menu was on prior to that extension. I've then got top-level folders across the entire browser, which each contain a highly nested / hierarchical structure. A sampling of my top level folders: Make (for hardware hacking related stuff), tools (where I keep various 'useful every three weeks' links), Queue (stuff I need to get to at some point), studies (links to lots of OpenCourseWare courses, in areas I want a refresher), Development (links to the various useful sites I've found. For instance, deep in there is a folder for all the Rails Plugins that I want to keep an eye on). I then use Deskbar (GNOME, or Launchy on Windows, or Quicksilver on OS X) to give me keyword access to these bookmarks. So when I want to upload photos to my flickr account, I "Alt+F3 Upload [Enter]" and I'm at the multi-upload page.

A PDF Printer is important for longevity of articles, but I think a proper bookmarking system has to be in place first, and I think most people get this horribly wrong.

Seriously? (2, Informative)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268185)

File -> "save page as" -> "web page, complete".

You can either keep what you save in some sort of logical arrangement, or trust your handy desktop search engine to find it for you later (though that seems to reduce the problem back to finding the info in the first place, though at least you don't need to worry about the content going offline at some future date.

Easy (5, Funny)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268207)

Just write to your ISP pretending to work for one **AA and you'll immediately get a complete list of your activities. As a bonus, you can also use that to terminate your subscription without the 2 mounthes notice.

What's wrong with Bookmarks? (0, Flamebait)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268231)

...or 'favourites' if you haven't switched to Firefox yet.

Use folders and subfolders to organise them, and if you really honestly have an unmanageably large number of bookmarks that you couldn't possibly just google again later, cut and paste from the bookmarks file to any kind of saveable text document.

Re:What's wrong with Bookmarks? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268403)

Errrrm... pages change... sites become unavailable. I think the poster wants to make sure he can access the exact same information he came across two years ago.

Google Desktop, PDF, directory organization (1)

rfunches (800928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268249)

Google Desktop Search and PDF. GDS does the indexing, PDF preserves the original page.

A good use of directories for organizing helps to avoid "lost" files from floating around. I use this for research papers and projects.

Copy paste (1)

sherriw (794536) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268253)

I often copy all the relevant text from several sites on a topic I'm researching... paste it into a text document then save it to my hard drive. I save pics that way too. Instead of grabbing the whole page. Makes for easy printing if I want a hard copy.

PDF! (3, Insightful)

megabyte405 (608258) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268263)

Any time someone mentions how they don't like having papers around but want a hard copy, my response is immediately, print it to PDF! Your operating system should be able to do this :) Linux firefox, print to generic printer to a file named, then run ps2pdf on it, in just about every other GNOME app PDF support is built in to the print dialog. Mac OS X, well, you already knew you could save PDF (or save the preview, same diff) from your print dialog. Windows: is your friend - just don't install their toolbar (the existence of which makes me rather sad). Then, you've got the page (or whatever) archived in a nice, portable, paper-like file, and when desktop search is ready for the masses (if you're not on a Mac), you'll even be able to search it - much better than paper!

Mindmapping (1)

jslalleman (1090509) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268269)

I would use a mindmapping program (freemind in linux for instance or mindjet mindmanager in windows). This will give you the possibility to organize websites, notes, scans and more sources in one overview. Check more info on this via the following links: [] [] sic-introduction-to-mindmapping.html [] good luck!

Have you tried Acrobat? (1)

griffon666 (1005489) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268279)

Acrobat has a feature called "convert web pages to PDF" from within Acrobat that is quite useful to archive websites digitally while preserving the formatting and keeping things searchable (with OS X Spotlight, for example). When you install Acrobat, Internet Explorer 6.0 (or higher) even gains an Adobe PDF toolbar that you can use to generate PDF from within IE. I guess most Slashdotters use different browsers, but at least on OS X you can easily print to PDF natively.

Re:Have you tried Acrobat? (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268421)

Or better, get the PDFCreator program for Windows, which installs a PDF printer to "print" PDF from anything. As an added bonus, it's GPL, which should please the OSS zealots here. If you're not on Windows, GNOME, KDE, and as parent mentioned, OSX have native PDF facilites

Research trails (1)

nenya (557317) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268289)

As a member of the legal profession, I do a large amount of research online. My site of choice is Westlaw, produced by the largest legal publisher in the country (and thus probably the world). They have a feature on their website they call "Research Trails", which keeps a record of your navigation each time you log in. The list is fully linked, so you can access any document on the list easily. You can not only see what you looked at but see the order in which you looked at it, which helps in reconstructing thought patterns. This is a dramatically helpful feature for any research site, and they are to be commended for implementing it.

Their major competitor, LexisNexis, has a similar feature.

I know this doesn't help much for general-purpose multi-site research, but I can't say just how useful this feature is for a single site. I would recommend other site developers to create similar functionality as soon as convenient. Imagine how useful this could be for Wikipedia.

On second thought, scratch that. Sometimes I really don't want to know how I got from point A to point B on that site.

Pathway (1)

smurfsurf (892933) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268529)

> I would recommend other site developers to create similar functionality as soon as convenient. Imagine how useful this could be for
> Wikipedia.

Pathway does just that for Wikipedia, it is great :-) []

PDF/Annotating (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268299)

I will have to agree with other people saying that PDF *is* the way to save web pages for future reference (i used to use MHT but it is propietary and you cant add notes).

For the annotations I would suggest the FoxIT [] PDF reader (free) and buy the Pro Pack [] [US$40 ](one of the few softwares I have found so useful and at good price to actually buy) which will allow you to add annotations and mark the text among other things.

I will use this post to ask if anyone knows of an open source alternative to this the ProPack that lets you add comments, marking and other basic editing features. I would think that is something *lot* of people want.

Save Page as ... (1)

ShelfWare (457545) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268301)

Find somewhere to file it locally and do a save page as. Most browsers will save all the images, links, etc, intact.

Then just get Google Desktop or something similar to index those.

Recommend good free PDF printer? (1)

sherriw (794536) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268309)

Can anyone recommend a good PDF printer driver application so people who can't afford Acrobat can still print to PDF?

Re:Recommend good free PDF printer? (2, Informative)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268445)

CutePDF [] .

CutePDF vs PDFCreator? (1)

sherriw (794536) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268499)

I personally lean toward the open source option... but how do CutePDF and PDFCreator stack up against each other in terms of stability, features and bugginess?

Thanks for the suggestions by the way!

Re:Recommend good free PDF printer? (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269605)

Acrobat is $300 - you can get an older Mac running 10.1-10.3 for less than that. :) (Yes, OS X can print anything to PDF.)

Take a look at the ScrapBook Firefox extension (5, Informative)

BruceCage (882117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268315)

I imagine something like a FireFox plug-in with a 'Remember This' button and some options for category, keywords, annotations, etc., but I'll bet there are more creative approaches, too."
ScrapBook [] is a Firefox extension created by Gomita (some Japanese fella), it allows you "capture" web pages, creating a locally stored cache and offers the ability to easily remove content from the captured web page, mark sections or add notes. It also has a whole bunch of tools such as full text search and a pretty intuitive interface.

You can find all the features in a nice list [] at the official homepage with tons of pretty screenshots. There's even a 50 page manual [] (PDF) created by Andrew Giles-Peters.

Even though development has seemingly halted since December 2005, it's still one of the most well rounded extensions for Firefox I've come across yet.

Re:Take a look at the ScrapBook Firefox extension (2, Interesting)

brusk (135896) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268571)

I second this. I MUCH prefer Scrapbook to PDF saves, which I used earlier, because Scrapbook preserves all the original HTML and the format of images (whereas PDF converts them and makes them hard to separate out), is also searchable/indexable by whatever indexing program you want, and can be highlighted, annotated, etc.

Let's just hope they keep developing, at least enough to ensure that it continues to work with future releases of Firefox. My sense is that they are, given that the developers blog at [] is active and indicates that they're looking at Firefox 3 issues.

Re:Take a look at the ScrapBook Firefox extension (1)

Jonah Hex (651948) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268963)

ScrapBook - Released on Dec 15, 2006
You're only a year off ;)

Jonah HEX

Re:Take a look at the ScrapBook Firefox extension (1)

BruceCage (882117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269527)

In all the excitement I made a couple of errors in my post (to "capture" web pages, a locally stored cached version), I saved the post in ScrapBook and corrected them but alas it has no use :) May the grammar and spelling Nazis have mercy on me today.

Re:Take a look at the ScrapBook Firefox extension (2, Insightful)

GiMP (10923) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269037)

I also second this (me too!)

In years past, I used PDFs, but since 2003, I have been using scrapbook.

Personally, I use it for vacations and business trips. When I'm on on the road, I just 'scrapbook' important pages (like Google map directions) and when I need to pull something up, I just open the laptop. Now, on the other hand, its a lot easier to pull the PDF files over to your PDA...

Now-a-days, I use this less frequently due to the rise of high speed cellular internet, but its still extremely useful for times that I leave my coverage area.

Word Processor (1)

0311 (796591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268321)

Today's batch of Word Processors (not your simple notepad and editor software) is a pretty good bunch, by and large, and most, if not all, will take the HTML page and nearly faithfully reproduce it's content. Then store it in a topic named hierarchy of folders. Now it is organized, searchable and backup-able. Furthermore, all of the modern word processors I am aware of allow you to annotate the content and track your changes. Voila!! Simple solutions are really best.

Randomly enough (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19268335)

Microsoft has the answer to this one. One Note [] . It's absolutely magnificent for stuff like that. There are some other programs which take similar stabs at the same problem, Treepad, Infomagic, and, of course, Google Notebook [] . But One Note wins this one walking away.

Re:Randomly enough (1)

adonoman (624929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269417)

I'll second this - OneNote is just awesome for grabbing stuff from everywhere, and organizing/searching it. It'll even OCR any images so that you can search them.

I wget it! (3, Informative)

VE3OGG (1034632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268341)

wget is probably one of my favourite Linux command-line tools. All I need to do is wget -r [] and it saves a directory called and all the pages in it, as well as the images, and any embedded video and such. This is very handy, not only for getting a huge number of files (say my http backup server), but also for getting entire sites that I might have a use for in future.

At the moment, I have on order of 10GB just of websites, radio clips, and what have you that I have used for previous research. Not only that but I can also maintain a simple directory structure and never have to worry that that "firefox plugin" will still be compatible with version 4.765.

Another neat function is you can specify just a particular files (, or all the files with a particular extension *.jpg, or only the files in that directory. You can also use it to spider (limited) all the links on a site. Though be kind and don't do this too often, as I am sure it eats a lot of bandwidth.

The last (and greatest) thing, is it remains in a well-known and easily editable format.

Alternatively, I have also used a MediaWiki setup so that I could drop down notes for classes, or other interesting things in it, but this required substantially more overhead than wget.

A personal wiki? (2, Interesting)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268345)

I've been struggling with this myself, to a point. How about a personal wiki, such as Didiwiki, that runs locally?

I also save web pages as "Web Page, Complete". It now occurs to me that I should make a specific directory for those pages.

Re:A personal wiki? (1)

stonertom (831884) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268669)

The other personal wiki that i know of but forgot the name of, search for notepad on crack. Sorry about lack of name, maybe whoever had it in there sig could reply?

Re:A personal wiki? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19269473)

Tomboy [] ? MoinMoin [] ?

Re:A personal wiki? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19268681)

This is exactly what I do, I run Mediawiki on my personal webspace and put all my personal research on there.

MediaWiki, plus my own pico-Google (1)

pestie (141370) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269043)

I run a full-blown install of MediaWiki on a small server behind my firewall. I wanted to learn MediaWiki markup and I thought it would be a useful tool for organizing and annotating all the crap I come across on the web that I'm going to want to find later.

I also wrote a sort of pico-Google in PHP/MySQL a couple years back, and I still use that regularly. It's a sort of searchable bookmark database. I feed it a URL, it goes out to the page and sucks down all the text, normalizes it, and breaks it into keywords. It then stores the keywords in the database. It's got well over 3,000 pages in it at this point and even on my little 1 GHz machine with 512M of RAM, it hauls ass. I used to have a separate component that went out and checked each link every night to see if it had moved or changed, but I gave up on that part when I decided the whole thing needed a rewrite anyway. And, as is typical for these hobby projects, I haven't yet gotten around to it. I want to implement multi-word text-string searching (i.e. searching for "a string of words in quotes"), a few Google-esque functions like inurl:, and make the interface not look like total crap the way it does now. Maybe someday...

So, at this point, if there's information I consider especially worth saving or looking at, I dump it into my personal Wiki. If it's something I just think I might want to use later for some reason, I throw it in the bookmark database.

DEVONthink (2, Informative)

Finque (653377) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268349) ink/ []

Using a good PDF exporter (I'm on OS X, so look elsewhere for free & easy ways to do this on Windows), DEVONthink will pretty much keep everything organized like a digital filing cabinet.

'Course, the cheapest version costs $39.95, but I can attest to the fact that this software WORKS (I got it heavily discounted in the MacHeist 2006 bundle).

Re:DEVONthink (1)

Finque (653377) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268389)

...And now as I belatedly read the product webpage, I see it's Mac OS X only. Sorry if that doesn't work for you =\

To anyone using OS X and looking for a solution to submitter's problem however, I highly recommend this software. Try before you buy, they give 150 hours of runtime for the app during trial.

Re:DEVONthink (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268449)

Free & easy ways to do this on Windows:

Hope this helps...

Yojimbo (2, Interesting)

smurfsurf (892933) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268371)

I quite like Yojimbo []

You can either save a "web archive", which is the web page incl. all graphics/css/etc., or a PDF of the page (nicely integrated into print services). Both document types are rendered inside the app and are searchable. Yojimbo has also tags and folders to keep things organised. And you can also save regular notes (formated and with images). Covers all bases.

When it comes to pure PDF, YEP [] is an excellent alternative. Kind of the iPhoto of PDF.

The problem is the media (1)

Aaron_Pike (528044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268431)

The problem is that the Web is stored electronically. Oh, if only there were some way of storing electronic data in some sort of non-volatile format. If only we could take a File that is a web page and Save page as... something.

Suggestions (1)

Arab (466938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268521)

I used to email myself a link to a page when I found something interesting. The email account I used for that is so clogged up I had to stop using it. Now I've installed the [] plugin for firefox I just use that you tag pages by topic so you can just look through all the pages you have tagged with a particular topic.

On the subject of PDF printing I used to do that too but my hard drive got clogged up with a bunch of stuff I would never get round to reading. Cute Pdf is free for windows, in Linux print to file and use pstopdf or a similar too, I'm sure there is a print to pdf tool as well I've never used one though...

Webforia Organizer .... (1)

XenoPhage (242134) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268555)

Back in the day there was this cool little program called Webforia Organizer. I somehow wound up on the Beta team for it and got to use it extensively. This program was really cool, it clipped pages, kept local copies, was searchable, etc. I loved it. Unfortunately, it was built on IE 5, but then again, Firefox wasn't released back then...

Apparently Webforia went out of business some time ago and the software no longer works.. I believe it had limited functionality with IE 6, but not enough to make it worthwhile.. No clue if it would even work with IE 7...

I still have my copies... I really wish it worked. I had amassed a huge database of research that's basically useless now.. (although, since it clipped them as web pages, I supposed I can, technically, view them... But the names were based off GUIDs, so identifying the pages is a little rough...)

Bookmarks plus a whiteboard (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268575)

I'm very careful about managing my bookmarks, only adding what I'm actually interested in at a given moment and removing the link once it's gone. Since "the literature" required for my research primarily consists of journal and conference publications, the locations of which are fairly immutable, I don't usually worry about the URLs becoming invalid.

If I get any "aha" ideas while reading these papers, I record them in a whiteboard or notebook. Eventually, I have the paper distilled to three or four of these and I no longer need to read the paper to think about the ideas presented therein.

Basically, if you manage your bookmarks well and take good notes, that's all you need :)

I'm a Ph. D. student in Computer Science with an INTJ MBTI type. YMMV, depending on profession ("research" means different things to different people) and personality ('P' types tend to organize themselves differently).

Evernote (2, Informative)

blighter (577804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268809)

I use Evernote: [] .

It's a program that allows you to easily save a copy of just about anything (certainly anything on the web...) with links to the original and everything else. The notes are automatically stored in chronological order for browsing. You can also apply tags to your liking and it has full search capabilities as well. It's free for the regular version, if you want to import handwritten notes and have them be searchable as well there's a charge.

It's awesome and I think fits your needs exactly, or at least I use it to meet the needs you described and I've had no problems with it.

Now if I could just force myself to go back and do something with the research later...

P.S. There's a writer in The Atlantic named James Fallows who has a column on useful technology tools. That's where I first learned of Evernote. He had several other suggestions to fit the bill in that column and more generally, he's usually worth a read.

Dual support (1) (595837) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268837)

  • [] for sites of interest
  • GMail drafts for urls along with results and saved documents

Firefox Bookmarks (2, Interesting)

Tronster (25566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268845)

Bookmarks and histories aren't the answer -- they're not very good for searching, the UI isn't very good for, say, adding notes, and they don't work offline. Also, stale URLs are a huge problem
I agree with all of the shortcomings time961 posted, but despite these I have personally found bookmarking to work rather well for my projects. The pipeline is like this...

In my bookmarks folder I have a "Projects" folder.
Within my "Projects" folder I have an alphabetic listing of folders with each project's name.
If the project is small, I fill it directly with book marks. I do take the time to add notes, because if the URL does go stale, the notes will let me know what I'm now missing. More often than not, missing information can be replaced in the future with another URL that has the same or more up-to-date information. Additionally Google Desktop searches my bookmarks file, so I just double-click ctrl and can search via keywords that way.

This whole setup is a bit of a hack, but it's worked. I'm hoping either Firefox 3.0 will have a fantastic bookmark manager or a plug-in author creates something truly wonderful for the existing bookmark system.

Opera Notes (2, Insightful)

Gorgeous Si (594753) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268863)

In Opera you can select some text in a webpage, then right-click and select "Copy to note" (Shift-Ctrl-C). Notes are stored in a panel, and double clicking a note will load the webpage it came from. Handy.

Zotero (1)

titchy (750602) | more than 7 years ago | (#19268867)

great research manager, just type zotero in google.

Clever cut&paste (1)

january (906774) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269249)

The most annoying part of web-based research was for me always copy & paste. Each month I am doing a literature digest from my scientific field, which requires me to copy titles, abstract, urls of selected articles. And each journal has another format / layout, furthermore, you sometimes need more than this information, so that manual copying is necessary. Copy, switch to the editor window, paste, switch to the browser window, where the hell am I, copy, ...

Therefore, I have written myself a small tool to record all copy operations automatically. Essentially, anything that I mark (since this means "copy" in Linux) gets *added* to a clipboard. I am not going to publish it, though, because it was written in perl/tk and seems to work only with particular versions of perl/tk, but as an idea it greatly improved the process of storing my web searches. I tried to find a ready tool that does just that, but I could not find anything.

j. (2, Informative)

finkployd (12902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269283)

I'm normally not a web 2.0 bandwagon type of person, but is probably the most useful thing for this that I have ever run across.

-accessible from anywhere
-really simple to add to (with firefox plugin)

-web pages are ephemeral itself could go away someday, and I'm not sure how to back it up locally

The best way to address the issue of web pages being ephemeral is to, as others have said, print to pdf. You mac people have it nice in this regard, but it is not hard to set up on windows or *ix.

I also mentioned that was searchable, but only the tags, titles, and descriptions. I fully expect google to someday roll out a similar service someday that lets you search through the pages you have tagged. That would be very useful.

I also like the suggestion of a personal wiki, but more for keeping track of little "tips and tricks" that I stumble upon rather than entire web pages.


Google Notebook (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269335)

I fully expect google to someday roll out a similar service someday that lets you search through the pages you have tagged. That would be very useful.

Guess I should have read all of the comments in this story before replying. I would have learned about Google Notebook [] which looks like exactly what I was thinking of.


Text (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269315)

How do others deal with organizing the results of browsing?

I do this as regularly as anyone.

        lynx -dump > ~/docs/filename

or if you're organised

        lynx -dump | add_to_database_script

What's important to me is the content itself, not the "web content", so an attorney, for example, would take a very different approach (typically a hard copy that can be filed, duplicated, etc.). Note that unless you work for a law firm or a well-run business, managing paper is like a dog walking on its hind legs: it's rare to see to it done, and when you do, it's not done very well. The same applies to bookmarks which have the additional problem of referencing pages that may get moved or simply disappear at any time.

In my experience PDF and HTML are like cousins who should refrain from getting to close to each other. By comparison, processing simple text is straightforward.

Email (1)

kramulous (977841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269397)

For web surfing I right-click and use 'send to'. I use the 'from' (me) and 'subject' to set appropriate filters on Thunderbird. This is then sent to various archive folders in the Thunderbird client and I archive occasionally. Also, highly searchable ... sometimes write a small blurb in the body.

I stick to Endnote for papers. Is a little more time consuming but it is better in the long term.,
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