Zotero, the free Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, cite, and share your research sources, just came with an interesting new plutin; Zotero maps. The plugin allows Zotero users to map the references in your library on the globe.
After installing the plugin, you can generate a map based on one or more fields, including title, abstract, tags, notes, attachment, place, institution or university. Zotero Maps can automatically extract locations appearing in these fields or even from the text of your PDFs and then plot these places on a map (implemented in openlayers). Similarly, you can apply your own geographic tags and use this tool to explore geographic relationships between references.
In the map you can click on the place holders for additional information. In the screenshot below you see the location of the publications in the Forestalis library.
In many cases places of publication include crucial information about your items. It can for example be useful in mapping locations of botanical / vegetation studies, allowing easier linking study results to geographical location.
For now it only seems to allow the user to visually explore geographic relationships between references. What would make this particularly useful would be the option to export the map as e.g., shapefile or csv text file with coordinates and references. Maybe something for a next release 🙂
Update: Just was reading a bit more about this and it seems that for the plugin to extract location data from pdf’s it uses the Yahoo Placemaker web service. To make this work with the Zotero maps plugin you seem to need a Yahoo! App ID according to this post. I need to check how that works, but I am definitely going to check out this Yahoo Placemaker service.