Saturday, August 2, 2008

Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age--Naming, Tagging, and Filing


As I started on this lecture, this is an idea that I found that really surprised me. It makes total sense though. I don't know how long you have had a digital camera, but if you have had one very long, you know how those picture files stack up. And then when you are looking for one, it takes a while if they are still named "img10034.jpg." So your files may all survive the next 10 years fine (if you follow the first 4 principles we have been talking about) but you may not be able to find what you need anyway.

You need to name things well and keep them organized. Name all of your files with details about the information contained inside if you can. You can organize by name or by date. Filenames such as:
— Janet Hovorka birthday 12_9_92.jpg
or 1992_12_9 Janet Hovorka birthday.jpg
I personally prefer the date first so that file explorer brings up the list chronologically. Ideally you would always go back through and name digital photo files. I personally don't do very well at that. But when I take the files off the camera I do put them in file folders that are named:
2008 Jan_Mar
2008 Apr_Jun etc.
That is a good start. But in 10 years I'm going to have too much and need to come up with another system. Just like in a good library, the more consistent you are the easier your system will work for you.

I know someone (who shall remain anonymous) who makes new file folders all the time titled “new” “to print” “latest” etc. -- titles that are temporary. You think you will go back through and change them, but most people don’t. A year later, those file folders are full of all sorts of unorganized stuff. The problem compounds over time and then you have a mess to clean up on your computer so that you can find anything.

So, computer filing systems are like any filing system—like keeping a house or office clean. Just set a scheduled time to file—every day or even quarterly.

Previous Posts in this series:
Will your work survive the digital age--the Digital Dark Age.
Will your work survive the digital age?
Will your work survive the digital age--Dissemination
Will your work survive the digital age--Refreshing and Backup
Will your work survive the digital age--Replication
Will your work survive the digital age--Migration

One more post to come: What to do when the worst happens.

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