I wrote a little DTD of my own over the weekend to use for biblliographic information I’m starting to collect for my book. I needed something to structure the data, and emacs/psgml/DTD seems like a good starting point, since it’s a tool chain I already use and am comfortable with. Perhaps this is a wheel I’m reinventing, but my structure is parsimonious (author, journal, date, title and room for open-ended notes), so it should be easy enough to move it into some other data storage bin if and when I decided on making a change. And thanks to python/libxml/libxslt, dealing with the data is relatively easy.
Suggestions for bibliographic dialects of XML and related software are welcome.
The underlying issue I’m grappling with is a need to adapt my work style. Writing newspaper stories, I can just blunder ahead. Both literaly and metaphorically, I can easily keep up to 10 bits of knowledge in a heap (either in my brain or physically, via notebooks or research papers on my desk) and find whatever I need. Beyond 10, though, it gets increasingly difficult to rummage around and find stuff in a way that’s quick enough to keep up with the writing. I regularly bang up against the limitations of this technique when writing longer newspaper stories. It obviously will fail completely when trying to write a book.
Have you tried mind maps an idea I think that was started by Tony Buzan. It a more natural way to lay out ideas and information. I have just started using them and they can be really good. There is a java implementation, called freemind, that is quite good for organising your ideas on and even allows you to link out to websites and text files.
Just thought that it may help.