The history of reading and writing involves paper now for over 2000 years – screens for about 80 years, television and cinema included. This actually is roughly overestimated, since computers became affordable and available only some 20 years ago. We can without doubt state that we have a very strong tradition on handling and organizing […]
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Software Review: Skim PDF Reader

Skim for the MacThe history of reading and writing involves paper now for over 2000 years – screens for about 80 years, television and cinema included. This actually is roughly overestimated, since computers became affordable and available only some 20 years ago. We can without doubt state that we have a very strong tradition on handling and organizing paper and are just starting off handling written information digitally.

In this new field standards are almost not available yet, but PDF, the portable data format established by Adobe is one of the globally accepted exchange formats available. One of the unique features of OSX is the system-wide support for pdf file printing.

How do You handle paper?

Many people right now go the middle way and collect data digitally while being in need of a hardcopy they switch to printing and annotating/summarizing. This system works well for a limited amount of data, that is, how many blank sheets you have to your disposal, how much storage space etc…

Eventually, you will either experience your limits of having an overview or space to store printed paper conveniently. What digital information storage can help you with is stretch both of these borders and free resources wasted by this process, no matter how much it actually is you need to handle. While space is a no-brainer the overview is created through having the information context-sensitively searched in no time for you.

If the paradigm of getting information has changed, wouldn’t it be nice having an app to keep it in one place, say, edit, comment and organize your paper digitally?

The app: Skim is one of the many pdf handlers around – so why use this and not Adobe’s reader or any other applications? Because Skim is not only handling pdfs but integrating indispensable features we all are used to from handling hard copy information.

What I normally do reading my hardcopy papers is highlight important information to return to them if I ever look at the paper again.

In skim you can choose just such a highlighter to accentuate important content, or you colorize whole paragraphs with a rectangle tool…You even can pick Your color for the highlighting! This additional info of course can be printed out for further handling, but it is not necessary.

For those of you having to organize bigger documents, the content of a pdf is fully bookmarkable while you have the option to also integrate a comment in the bookmarks.

Often I include a short summary or just some key words that are of importance to me in this specific article… in skim you can add either a note to any position in your pdf, similar to a sticky note… but you can integrate all the additional information entered by the user is not stored with the PDF itself but rather as a “layer” that is applied to the pdf file. This information is saved into the same directory as the pdf and is opened simultaneously when skim opens the document.

While being aware that this shift of paradigms will take its time it will be unavoidable – flow of information is speeding up, our brains will assuredly stay the same limiting factor they have been ever since. Obviously the organizing and processing until this point has to be simplified as much as possible.

Skim is a very valuable approach to try keeping pace with the development by bringing techniques we know from working with paper and pencil to the digital format. Give it a try and experience the beauty of having information in one place.

Download now from Sourceforge

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