There are several camps when it comes to tags versus folders, and Gmail users are a great example of this. They’ve debated Google’s implementation of labels since their launch. One camp prefers folders because that’s what they’re used to and they may have a meticulously classified document structure in place already. Another camp likes to throw everything into a mixing bowl and perform searches every time to pull out information. Yet a third camp likes to apply labels, or tags to their e-mail and use those tags to create information filters.
One thing all camps can agree on: the goal for all of these methods is to filter information and locate specific pieces of data. My preference is to minimize the amount of administration required to maintain a structure of resources, which I’ll refer to as a resourceweb. To create a low maintenance system I use a combination of search and tagging because each varies in effectiveness depending on a given set of circumstances.
Here are my suggestions on finding files more quickly within your resourceweb. First, become familiar with your operating system’s searching capabilities or install Google Desktop. Next, choose your tagging system. Windows users may want to investigate tag2find, which is free tagging software I’ll review in more detail later. If you’re a Mac OS X user, check out this article on Lifehacker discussing native tagging support.
Finally, the real challenge is to brainstorm what keywords to use. Usually it works well to think of broader categories, especially if they’re words you use in your regular vocabulary, then brainstorm details you might search for later. For example any given file in my music library might have these tags: music, mp3, hiphop. This is already a successful organizational methodology in use by companies like Del.icio.us and Amazon.com, now just think of applying that same efficiency to your resourceweb.
Search usually works well on its own but at times there are too many results. Tagging can help limit search engine scope, and also allows you to browse topics of interest without locking on to the perfect search term.
How do you organize your resourceweb?