Sunday, August 07, 2016

Digital genealogy organizing project Step 3: Thinking about how to organize all things genealogical

Now that I've set aside a highest-level folder for my genealogy-related stuff, I have to think about how to subdivide that. In this genealogy-specific folder, I won't have to worry about some of things I had to worry about in previous steps, such as special folders used by specific applications, or folders I share with others that might contain things on different topics.

When organizing digital folders, you are dealing with a trade-off.  You can have a small number of folders, so that you don't have to browse through so many, but that means you may have to use extra clicks to get to the file you want.   Or you can reduce the number of clicks by putting more folders at each level, but this means more time spent in browsing to find the right one.  (You web designers out there will immediately recognize this as a problem that web designers face.)

Because I write and present and podcast about genealogy, I will need some folders for those things that most genealogy hobbyists won't need.  I plan to divide my Writing folder by project. My Presentation folder can have one folder for each event that I'm presenting at, and one containing all of my presentations.  I like to title folders for upcoming events by date (for instance, 2017-02-08 RootsTech), so that they sort to the top in chronological order (numbers sort before letters).  Once the event has passed and I've received any due payments, I retitle the folder by event name (RootsTech 2017) so that it moves away from the top of my events folder, and becomes part of an archive.  And each presentation will have its own folder, containing the PowerPoint file and the handout files in Word and in PDF.

Before we get to the heart of the matter (genealogical research), there are some other folders that I think every genealogist should have.  You'll want one for your volunteer activities, with subfolders for each organization you are volunteering for, and within those, subfolders for each committee or project you are serving on.

You'll want another folder for your education or professional development, which may contain instructional videos or handouts. If you are planning to attend a conference or institute, you can create a folder for that event and use the same event structure I described in the previous paragraph.

You may want another folder for your genealogy hardware and software tools, such as for manuals. (If the hardware or software tool is not one that you use exclusively for genealogy, you'll probably want to put its associated files in a folder in your top-level Other or Home or Misc or Personal folder.)

It occurs to me that I'll also need a folder for genealogy reference resources, such as maps, directories, etc.

Finally, as for actual genealogical research, I have decided to use two folders: one for my personal research, and one for pro bono research I may be doing for friends or others.  (I can imagine that professional researchers who take clients would want a high-level folder like this for their client work.)  The non-personal folders would be named for the person whose work I'm doing.

So what does this look like?

!Research - personal (note the exclamation point to push it to the top, since I plan to use this folder most often)
Professional development
Reference resources
Research - for others
Technology tools
Volunteer work

Now for me to start moving files and folders.  I fully expect to discover a few things that might not fit neatly into one of my pre-defined folders.

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