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Monday, 5 January - link

Personal Filing

I'm confronting the fact that my MP3 files are more organized than my personal files (genre - artist - album - track).

I'm a writer / speaker / webmaster / consultant on a half dozen daily projects and a dozen more requiring monthly attention. Beyond that are archives - finished pieces, half-baked articles, unpublished interviews, sketches for sites never comissioned.

How to file all of that?

My old system was thus:

- wireless
- games
- japan

- chanpon
- links
- gga

Jex (as in "pro")
- health insurance
- business cards

But sometimes I have an article laying fallow in Japan that could be repurposed to Chanpon. And photos for everything in between. Things are so segmented, I don't have much occasion to visit my archives. I don't know what I have - except that in moments of lucidity, I realize I have enough research to fullfill all my writing commitments for the next year and maybe enough to write a book with what's left.

And backing up is tough - I work on a desktop and a laptop - I copy over a sub-sub-sub folder for a month on the road and then three months later I have to check which computer has the latest interviews and web research.

So I'm beginning to think I should just have a single directory listing all my projects, writing or otherwise, in a reverse chronological listing. Then the latest is always on top. And old stuff is just far down at the bottom.

But that means I'm facing folder names like 2004-03-WirelessGamingReview-Nintendo-Games-Wireless-Japan and that's just ugly. And shouldn't I have all the Chanpon stuff grouped together? A combination of site designs, articles in progress, site graphics, backups.

Maybe I should copy over anything I haven't touched in six months to a backup hard drive and wipe it. But I do go back into my article archives to see just what John Carmack said in that interview, for example, or what I said in the draft before it was mangled by that voracious editor.

Maybe I should run a project database as my front end to all of my files? Index every project, and tag associated data and files with keywords, due dates and relevant contacts.

Youch - that seems intimidating and unweildy. I'm running all Windows XP at the moment; but I'm considering a move to Macintosh for one of my two primary computers, so I'd like to stay cross-platform. Drag and drop. Point and click. Yes.

Every month I generate 700 megabytes worth of photos and short videos, 11,000 words, numerous saved articles. So this problem will only grow, and it ain't only my problem.

Every once in a while I decide I should just store everything on my web site - that way I don't have to worry about back-ups. The heirarchy might be arbitrary, but at least it is existant. But that would grow my hosting bills still further and I like the security of waking up a ten second walk from my data. Call me old fashioned.

Heck this whole enterprise is an ugly conglomeration of old "filing heirarchies" and new "data types" - I feel like I need a digital citizen lebotomy, so I can grasp and apply the truly appropriate data indexing scheme. For now I'll say that my operating system won't let me evolve that fast and go back to contemplating my proper file ordering. I'm asking around - how do people organize their project data?

Posted on 5 January 2004 : 13:26 (TrackBack)
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Justin's Links, by Justin Hall.