Better Citation

David Parry bio photo By David Parry

Bibliographies or works cited pages have always struck me as a particularly user unfriendly aspect of book technology. Citations get in the way of fluid reading, I am always annoyed that at the end of a particularly fluid quotational analysis the sentence ends up being punctuated by a parenthetical ending with an author name, maybe a year, and a page number. For the most part I don’t need to look up the location from whence the quote orginated. Now I might need to, and for the cases where I do, it is important to be able to track down the source and get the full context. But this is the excpetion not the rule. And I’m not complaining about any particular citational format above any other, MLA, APA, Chicago Style none of them are particularly eloquent, and they all have their drawbacks and advantages. Now I am not sure that given the restraints of print technology I could come up with something more useful and more eloquent, but what I am sure of is that given digital technology this seems pretty easy. And while we are on the subject why is it that I am “supposed” to follow print citation format when writing for digitally born material. I have lots of ideas how this could function more easily, actually none of the ideas are mine, but rather ones others have come up with. Needless to say this isn’t even a particular observation made possible by the network either, Vannevar Bush was struggling in part with this question when he proposed the Mimex.

Which is all a rather long winded way of saying that I am trying to figure out how to handle citations here. The obvious choice would be to use Zotero, but I am not sure it is the optimal, it may be the best out there, but I am not sure it would do what I want (although I need to poke around the API to see). My other solution which I might go with for now is to just build a rather simple database with all my citations where each citation (not each work, but each citation) is its own entry. This would allow the sort of roll over a quote, have the information on the source pop-up functionality I imagine. And yes I do know that there are WP plugins that would do this, but I think there are perhaps advantages down the road to just using a very simple database for now. The disadvantage: being rigorous about coding the database.