What does it mean to be paperless? (Part 2/3)

The ‘cloud’ is a fancy term that basically means your data, files etc are stored at a server remote to your computer. I realise that I have been using the ‘cloud’ for a few years for Facebook (I store recipes in the notes section).  I have recently been introduced to Google docs (that stores documents, pdfs, spread sheets etc), Acrobat.com (has the added ability of web conferencing) and Evernote. It seems the possibilities are ample for persuing a paperless research.

I have played with Acrobat.com, and it looks very professional and was promising until I tried to tag two different people to share a document with. It informed me I would have to upgrade my account…hmmm. I try to keep all my internet relations as ‘financially neutral’ as possible, and am not interested in a monthly fee for something offered for free at another site. This has lead me to look at Google Docs again. I have now uploaded and shared with four people, all of whom can read and comment on my writing. This bodes well, especially in an age where supervisors (and hopefully one day their students) travel around the country and overseas. I also like the fact that storing this work in progress in the cloud provides another back up of my work, aside from my computer, flash drive and email system.

One thing I lamented to my WH early on is that it was a pity I couldn’t write on PDF copies of articles, like I can on paper articles. Aside from converting them to word documents I couldn’t think of how to do this….My WH was a little startled that I wasn’t already aware of this, and said that yes, there was a way to do this! We pulled out the laptop and started to play. There are so many extra things you can so on a static PDF, I was amazed! I can highlight sections of relevant text, annotate them and even make links to other articles and documents stored on my computer or on the internet. Another light bulb moment: this paperless thing is not just me with my head in the clouds (excuse the pun), it could be an achievable reality.

Again, I feel compelled to mention that I do realise the end result of this journey will be a printed PhD on paper. I think it will be great if I have considerably reduced the amount of paper that could be used in my study be using these online, free tools. I am very excited to be embarking on this journey.

Here is a link to a YouTube about a paperless PhD, there are 3 parts and if you are interested in this online storage and PDF editing, this is quite good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6bPvtmio2Y

Next week, part three of this series:

What does it mean to be paperless? (Part 3/3) which will cover common things on the internet that can be used to enhance study and networking, from Skype to Ted Talks and a few stops in between.

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