The Great Folder Debate

Okay, so the debate is taking place only in my head. Let's listen in (no affiliate links in this post):

Elby is analytical and into efficiency. Arby is whimsical and full of creative ideas.

Elby: So, this cabinet metaphor is creaking under the weight of information overload.

Arby: The forest metaphor isn't much better. I like contextual searches.

Elby: I ain't got all day for that! Every document should be two clicks away.

Arby: That's over a mile!

Elby: Stop playing around. We need to find a better way. All this  software forces us to save in odd places.

Arby: OneDrive is not really up in the clouds, is it? That would be neat. Until the jet stream whisks away your notes.

Elby: You know it's not. Are you going to contribute?

Arby: Okay, okay! Associative storage.

Elby: Too expensive. Remember the Memex experiment?

Arby: I like Evernote and Standard Note.

Elby: Those won't help us find files!

Arby: Well, may we should dump everything into Evernote. It reads PDFs. We have a million PDFs.

Elby: Again, too expensive. We're leaving Evernote, or did you forget?

Arby: Hmmm... You set up a ton of labels in Gmail and now you're sad. Why?

Elby: I thought I could get away with five, but new stuff doesn't fit in any of them.

Arby: Who cares? You can easily see what's new. They're bold. Plus, DarwinMail bundles emails for us!

Elby: I care! I don't want to wade through 60 Quora notifications to get to something more important.

Arby: Well, it's your fault for making Quora send you stuff.

Elby: Actually, you're right. We could unsubscribe to most of this stuff, right?

Arby: No! I'm building resources and making friends. You never visit Quora on your own.

Elby: Yeah, that's true.

Arby: Look at all the stuff you set up: Inoreader email to get newsletters, BurnerMail to hide your main address...

Elby: Alright, alright. you've made your point. We should at least get rid of the RSS email stuff.

Arby: We never read that mess, anyway.

Elby: Fine. Done. {deletes email link}

Arby: Let's look at Workona. I love Workona.

Elby: I left that in your hands for one day. You made a mess of it.

Arby: No I didn't. You can find anything that's been saved.

Elby: Arrgh, you win again. I just hate trying to figure out where you want me to store each new web page.

Arby: We should just have one big, giant inbox for files, emails, web pages and crypto.

Elby: Crypto??!! What have you been up to?

Arby: Never mind that. Look, I almost always find files with Everything. You launch programs with FARR.

Elby: Yeah, I love me some Find and Run Robot. I almost forget how to use the Windows Start menu!

Arby: Exactly! Now, if you put all our files in one big, pretty folder, then use Everything...

Elby: I'm going to stop you right there. We have blog posts, tax records, spreadsheets and games.

Arby: Ugh! I get carried away, don't I?

Elby: Don't be too hard on yourself. I go too far in the other direction. 

Arby: Actually, the best idea you had was to plant a new tree under My Documents and let iDrive backup that.

Elby: Thanks. I saved a lot of time with that one. Just check the root folder and forget it!

Arby: Why can't we extend that idea to the content that we create?

Elby: Because, like I said, software won't cooperate.

Arby: Well, you're the one who started allowing defaults to stand.

Elby: It's a time-saver! If the software remembers where it's files are saved, I won't make new folders.

Arby: Booo! Lazy-ass. Just as you made the Downloads folder the default, you can make new defaults!*

Elby: {lightbulb}

Arby: Base all folders one level beneath the iDrive tree. Data, Projects, Writing. With one click, you're in.

Elby: {Nodding} And, with the second click, I can see all Writing files!

Arby: Oh, no....blog posts need pictures.

Elby: {Excited} We can implement my other grand idea...

Arby: What's that?

Elby: File names with tags. Extensions already serve as great tags.

Arby: True.

Elby: Instead of a folder for images, just tag each file in a writing project with the same name.

Arby: I never liked that. Names are really long.

Elby: What do you care? Search with Everything, silly.

Arby: Oooh! That's right. But neither of us remembers whether it's tag1-tag2-post title or tag1 tag2 post title.

Elby: Doesn't matter, don't you see? With Everything, just search tag1*

Arby: Alright. I'm sold. Glad we could come to an agreement. So, that's files done.

Elby: Not quite.

Arby: Erm, what now?

Elby: Our external drive still has over 100,000 files to be catalogued.

Arby: Hmph! You made that mess. You clean it up. I'm sure you can write a batch file or something.

Elby: Come on, Arby! I need you to come up with something quick and clever!

Arby: How about Delete E:\*.*

Elby: I hate you.

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* Windows uses the Downloads folder for web browsers. Elby told lots of software to save files there, too. So, for example, the Downloads folder receives all screen shots from Screenpresso, videos from Loom and quick text files from EditPad PRO. (You can google those if you're interested.)

Once the files land in Downloads, yet another program monitors that folder and moves certain files from there to more permanent destinations. This program is called FileJuggler. It has a steepish learning curve, but works wonders to keep the Downloads folder clean.


Elby and Arby are working together to solve some thorny storage and retrieval challenges. They keep me sane.


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