Is Hierarchical Classification Going the Way of the Dodo?


Anonymous Patron writes: "Seattle Times technology reporter Kim Peterson Takes A Look At how people organize their own little digital libraries. It seems no matter how good desktop search gets, people still want to classify, to order, to sort their information in ways that will help them find it again on their own. The University of Washington's Information School wants to become a leader in this field. It has devoted people and projects to this growing area, and last month held what its researchers said was the first-ever conference on personal information management."


It seems no matter how good desktop search gets, people still want to classify, to order, to sort their information in ways that will help them find it again on their own.

I'm no exception to this. One look at my personal computers at home and anyone would see the toolmarks of a librarian. I have a lotta files, and most of them are small. I'm an image junkie, so I've got somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10,000 images on my system at any time. I use some of these for websites, some for drawing models, others for jokes, etc. And sure enough, they're all sorted into directories that ID what they're for.

My music and MP3 collection is the same way. Except for a few unsorted things here and there, everything is in directories by artist name and album title if it's the complete album.

Media files are sorted into categories. E-books and text files are sorted into either categories, or by author, or both. I even have a directory for stuff that I haven't sorted yet.

Sure I can find all of it with some kind of dekstop search app, or with internal searches. But why bother looking for an MP3 by Amuro Namie when (on an XP box) I can just hit the Windows Key+R (Run) and type f:\mp3\j-pop\Amuro Namie\ and hit enter? It takes almost as many keystrokes as a search, but instead of waiting for the search to find it, I just go straight to it.

Searches are nice, but they take time. Why take time for that when you can just organize everything efficiently and go straight to it? It's the same thing here at work. I can search for books on astronomy in our OPAC or on our staff client. I can take the time to leaf through all the books and materials shown on the computer. Or I can go straight to the 520s and just get what I want.

At work I had to learn a system(s). At home I create my own. And the reason I do that is for the same reason everyone else does that, to save time. You don't have to sputter around looking for something when you know where it is.

I've always thought everyone organised their computer files into some sort of order. I do and always have. Sometimes I end up combining things because I realise that, yeah, they should share a folder.

I organise my pics, too...I don't have quite so many as GWD, but they're organised by the name of the person/band/show/function, whichever is appropriate. I always end up with a few files that don't get classified...but there aren't a lot, so I can find them easily.

I do the same thing at work--I'm secretary for one of our committees and have been since the school opened. Each school year's worth of minutes has it's own folder within the committee folder. I have a folder for library related files, schedules, od notices, whatever. This year, I decided my schedules needed a seperate folder--I've kept previous years schedules...and I print out a colour coded copy for myself and a plain one to photocopy for staff. I'd never find anything if I didn't organise it.

I even organise by favourites in IE by category. If people don't organise their files, how do they ever FIND anything????

Of course, my organisational tendencies may be a result of my career choice...or maybe were just reinforced and clarified by my career choice.