How to Avoid Usurious Rates for Online Zotero Storage
So, my good friend Matthias Roeder was singing the praises of Zotero as citation management software. I’m in the process of finishing up one project and starting some other ones, so it seemed like as good a time as any to contemplate these basic tools of doing research.
I knew that I wanted something slightly more robust than what I had used to organize my dissertation, which was basically lots of word files, and Google Desktop to search them all. While this was more or less effective, and with carefully named digital photos of all of my archival materials things could be easily located, I knew that there was a more robust way to do it. But at the same time, I knew that I had been scarred by Some Bibliographic Management Software [[link to endnote]] which never quite formatted things the way I wanted.
So I’m happy to see that Zotero is easy to use, connects well with Firefox and existing databases like Jstor and Hollis. But the real power with Zotero is the ability to hang files on to bibliographic citations. So you can associate an image or a set of images with a citation for an archival source. Making things even more powerful, you can store it all online, so that your research files are available regardless of where you are working.
All this sounds well and good, right? Well, it is. It’s more than that, it is revolutionary to the way that humanists will be able to work. But there is a catch: consider the following cost for storing information with Zotero:
|Storage Quota||Annual Cost|
Consider then the fact that Zotero proudly announces that they use Amazon’s Simple Storage Service. Consider the standard US pricing for that: $0.15/GB/month, with all transfer in and out free until at least 30 June 2010. In other words, it costs $1.80 (not counting bandwidth) to store a gigabyte of your own stuff on S3; Zotero is charging 10 times the price. Hmm.
Step 1: Get JungleDisk. If you were really clever and got in on the ground floor, you have a lifetime membership like I do. Even if you didn’t, you can download and install the Desktop edition for $3/month. And the first 5 GB are free.
Step 2: Set up an Amazon S3 account. This is easy to do if you have ever bought anything through Amazon.
Step 3: Create a “zotero” online disk with JungleDisk.
Step 4: Configure Zotero to store your files via jungleDisk. In Zotero, go to Actions > Preferences > Sync. Then click “Sync attachment files in My Library using “WebDAV.” Your url is as follows:
Do not enter a username or password. You may have to restart firefox once or twice before it recognizes the S3 online disk.
Voila! You are now storing all of your Zotero files in a fault-tolerant distributed system, which is available on any computer where you have jungleDisk and Zotero installed, at a fraction of the price of Zotero’s offering. Granted, you can’t view your files through the Zotero web interface, but maybe some enterprising developer will write an online connector…