Please string the world’s smallest violin

I know this is the very definition of #firstworldproblems but I would like to vent, and this is my blog. So…

Back in the dark ages when OS9 was the new hotness, I sat down with a computer science nerd friend of mine, and we talked about file organization. In particular, he excoriated me for not knowing where everything was on my computer. Considering how OCD I am usually, I kinda had to agree. I made it a point to learn every nook and cranny of my mac, and have been organizing my files just so from that day on.

Fast forward 15 years. (It’s not fast forward or rewind anymore, is it? Have we come up with different words yet, or will kids be mystified by their origin in 10 years’ time?)

My files are still organized just so, but the very foundation of the system is breaking down. I have topic-based silos. So work is one silo, and within that silo I have admin, service, teaching, research in sub-silos. This works beautifully to find every file related to a topic. So for instance, all my lectures, exams, and assignments for HISP 101 in fall 2008 are in one folder.

To complete my metaphor, I could adaptively reuse my silos. Preservation-tastic!


Technology is making this organization increasingly impractical. By necessity, I save most of my docs to the cloud (and my computer, and a back up hard drive. I’ve experienced loss. I have no interest in doing so again.) I do lots of work on my ipad, so having my work in the cloud is unavoidable. Plus, I work with shared docs quite a bit.

Most cloud services organize files by type, not topic. This is certainly true in my case.

iCloud: mac docs I don’t have to share. Each are organized according to type and automatically sort from most recently opened on down.

Dropbox: docs I link to on my site. Generally PDFs.

Google Drive: collaborative docs people need to be able to edit. Generally wordprocessing docs and spreadsheets.

Evernote: catch-all, stuff I don’t have to share.

So how do I reconcile this with my painstaking file organization?!? I’m trying to figure it out, and for now at least I’m at a loss. Right now, I still back up most of my data on sugarsync, which allows file organization to remain. However, sugarsync has been a mixed bag. Sometimes it doesn’t like a file format, or just doesn’t back up for some reason, or the software doesn’t work. Basically, I’ve had issues with it, often at important meetings. So I’m planning on switching, but to what?

Not exactly cutting edge, but it sure is pretty.

I know spideroak is good, but it doesn’t do exactly what I want it to. Ideally, I want a system that will reduce, not increase, my cloud services. Most people don’t use spideroak, so it doesn’t seem like a good sharing cloud service. I guess I could just do google drive, but I don’t enjoy the google interface. Plus, people who use it need a gmail, which can be a pain for sharing.

As of right now, I’m thinking of either getting the paying version of dropbox or waiting for the new icloud for iOS8/Yosemite. Even then, though, I will have to reorganize my files to some extent. My current idea is to have current files in their respective cloud silo, and then old files in their regular folders on my computer. In other words, going back to what filing used to be pre-computers. What’s old is new again, I guess? No idea if this will work or not yet. I’ll keep you posted.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *