Using WordPress and DevonThink together

One of the things I’ve been trying to do of late is get into the habit of doing more regular writing. I have no illusions that I’ll keep much of what I write, but I find that writing something on a regular basis, even if it’s dreck, helps to keep the ideas flowing.

And even if most of what I write will never find its way into print of any kind, I want to save it so that I can mine it for possible material. How to save it, though? A few possibilities occurred to me:

  • Do the writing in Google Documents. The upside: I can organize things into folders, and anything I put there is searchable. The downside: My Google Documents account has enough material in it already, and though the folder structure in Google Documents has some similarities to tagging, I still find it a bit unwieldy for anything but the simplest forms of organization.
  • Do the writing in a private blog, and make sure the blog is Zotero-enabled. The upside: Doing this would allow me to save anything potentially worthwhile to my Zotero library, where it would be searchable and I could make notes on it. The downside: The kind of writing I’m talking about is essentially freewriting. It’s not even to the “rough draft” stage, so I’d rather not share it publicly. I’m all for the sharing of Zotero libraries, including notes (see this post by Mark Sample for a thoughtful reflection on why this is a good idea), but I’ve not yet found a way to share only part of a Zotero library. It seems to be all or nothing; so, since I don’t wish to share this writing, my Zotero library’s not a good place for it. It defeats the purpose of setting the blog as private in the first place.

Here’s what I found that I think will work well for me. I set up a WordPress blog, then installed the Private Only and WP Sentry plugins. The first of those plugins directs visitors to a login form. Since I’m the only one with a login, that keeps the blog private.

The problem I’ve had in the past with password-protected blogs is getting a working RSS feed. Here’s where WP Sentry comes in. It enables me to create a a feed URL that can’t be deduced from the blog’s address. (It’s a little hard to explain; I’d suggest checking out the plugin and experimenting with it.)

I can then take that feed and subscribe to it in DevonThink. The advantages?

  • It provides me with a backup of the blog. If anything happens to my host, I’ve still got copies of my posts in the DevonThink database.
  • My posts are searchable.
  • DevonThink’s unique “see also” feature helps me make connections with other items in my database (journal articles, etc.) that I might not otherwise see. Tagging’s a great tool, but it requires me to see the possible connections. Sometimes I miss things.

DevonThink, unfortunately, is only available for the Mac. I don’t know whether there’s anything similar for Windows or Linux, but any program that can permanently archive RSS feeds would at least permit the saving and searching of posts.

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