Monday, January 25, 2010

(Still) trying to like Mendeley

Mendeley I'm a keen CiteULike user, and although I don't think it's perfect, overall I'm pretty happy with the service. I'm also convinced that Mendeley is a fine product, and I've been trying to explore it for months.

But there's a problem. Unlike CiteULike, which is web-based and accessed through your favourite browser, for full service, Mendeley requires download and installation of a (free) specialist client application. That instantly invalidates it from use at UoL, since the CFS police don't like sullying their pristine servers with anything other than Microsoft® products (sigh).

So far, so bad. But there's a bigger problem. I've had the Mendeley client installed on various machines for months, and I've reached the conclusion that - I don't get it. I've tried and tried to like Mendeley. And failed. When it first appeared, Mendeley was touted as "A for Research" - maybe that's the problem, I never got either. Where's the social in Mendeley? I can't find it. Bookmarking? I can do that with Excel. It's social discovery I want, and that's what I can't figure out with Mendeley. Mendeley's roadmap includes an income-generating freemium model (fair enough, although the potential for being charged will put many people off) which includes increased storage space for PDFs (what is it with the obsession with PDFs - shouldn't we be trying to kill PDF?), more detailed stats, and a recommendation engine, which is just rolling out. But it doesn't help me.

So I have a proposal. What say we, the great and the good of UoL, get together (with cake) for a Mendeley grokathon? Kick the tyres, snap on the rubber gloves and insert a finger into its orifice and generally give it a good mixture of metaphors? Heck, we could even invite the Rt. Hon. R. Mobbs in his newfound role as God Of All Things Software (just in case we decide we like it). Whaddya think? Eh? Eh? Eh?

Update: UoL Mendeley Grokathon will be 11am, Tuesday 2nd Feb, Adrian 232 (off 2nd floor Adrian computer lab). Bring your laptop & come along if you are free.