Project/Collection Organization

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Memory keeping has evolved, especially over the last 30+ years. With digital cameras entering into the mix followed by our smartphones, even the way we organize our memories has changed.

All of this has a lot of us talking about digital asset management—a fancy term for organizing our photos. But, photo organization isn’t the only aspect of organization transformed by the digital age. How we organize and manage completed projects has evolved too, leading to a new set of decisions to make, like:

  • In what format(s) will we keep our finished projects? Paper isn’t the only option these days
  • How will we store those completed projects?
  • How will we organize our collection of completed projects? How about collections of collections—for example, a library of collected baby books (each with a collection of baby stories/pages), travel albums, everyday life for a given year, holiday themed books, etc.?
  • What can we do to make a specific project (or story) easy to find again?
  • What are our artistic requirements for the collection? (Do we want albums/photo books to match in size, color, and width?)

There are so many possibilities.

Yet, Our Decisions Are Unique

Here’s the deal: How each of us decides to answer the questions above, depends upon our personal preferences, tastes, and enthusiasm for organization. So, while there may be similarities and overlaps, there isn’t a single system that fits everyone perfectly. For example, even as much as I love organizing things (I took a few graduate level courses in library sciences back in college) and even though it's possible (and I suspect some memory keepers are doing this), I don’t think I’ll ever have a digital or paper catalog for our family library, let alone my memory keeping library. I'm just not that energized by the idea of it (kind of the opposite, actually).

Oh, and here’s another observation (truth?) I’m currently experiencing: Our decisions change over time—because technology changes, because we change, because change is inevitable.

About Those Possibilities

Okay. The only certainties here are change and that different choices are likely from one memory keeper to another. Everything else is just a possibility.

So, what is possible anyway?

Not So Fast, Miss Liz

Just now, my inner voices are urging me to slow down. They feel it super important to share the thoughts, intentions, and worries whirling around in my head before going on. So here it goes:

  • My intention is to start a list of possibilities
  • My hope is that our community will add to it via the comments (below)
  • Next, the list in NOT meant to limit, overwhelm, or set expectations for us. But, I worry that it might as it grows in size. I’d feel terrible if it did. I just want to get at the possibilities so that we have something that makes it easy for us to pick-and-choose what works for us as awesomely unique individuals
  • Also, I’m worried about painting a false picture that I’m on top of it all—I am not (pretty far from it, actually—knowing what’s possible isn’t the same as practicing what makes sense). Plus, right now my whole approach is undergoing a change. How I’m thinking about memory keeping is evolving in a big way. This puts me right in the middle of making new decisions about a great many things
  • I’m worried that it’s just me even though, my rational brain says it's possible that some of you may be in the same boat as me
  • Finally, I'm super jazzed, too, because being on this mastering-memory-keeping-journey together inspires me. So, I feel the need to let you know how grateful I am to you for being a part of it—you rock!

Okay. Mischief managed—at least the mischief of my mind.

On to the Starter List

When it comes to format, there are:

  • Analog options: Printed photos, slides, and paper
  • Digital options: Digital files, digital slideshows (just images), digital recordings (just words), and videos

When it comes to storage, there are:

  • Analog options: Frames, books/albums, file cabinets, bins, boxes, etc.
  • Digital options: SD cards, USB drives, external drives, CDs/DVDs, and cloud services

As for other considerations, there are lots of options to help us:

1. Design our collections (and collection of collections). Along with albums/photo books in a variety of colors, sizes, bindings, page counts, there are a variety of software applications for digital design—including applications that are less obvious, like Evernote which is meant for taking notes—each of these apps offer different design settings

2. Determine an overarching organization scheme (for individual books/slideshows, the entire library, or both). Schemas are a great tool for organization, especially when they serve our personal quirks, strengths, and weaknesses around remembering what we have in our collections. Some of the easiest organization models to remember include organizing by:

  • Locations. It’s more likely that we’ll remember a specific place better than a specific date, making locations a great way to organize our projects
  • Chronology, that is, organizing by a given day, week, month, year, etc.
  • Events, like a wedding, field trip, or graduation
  • Traditions, like recurring holidays or ways of doing something
  • People
  • Meaningful Topics. This is kind of a wildcard schema that holds significance for each of us, individually. It may be something like seasons, stories of courage, a recurring trip to a specific place, school stories, everyday life, and so on
  • Alphabetically, numerically, or both. This isn’t the best approach when it comes to individual projects within an album/photo book, but it is a great way to create an index—whether that is a browsable index created by placing individual books in an alphabetical/numerical order or a searchable digital/paper directory of stories and books
  • A Mix of some or all of the above

3. Find things again. Once we have our schema, there are some things we can do to help us find specific pages/stories again. These include catalogs (digital or analog), spine titles and book indices, digital asset management software to help us search by term or by image (the software has grown very sophisticated), or all of the above.

Next Up, It's Decision Time

As I rethink my memory keeping intentions, many (but, not all) of the possibilities above have my attention. Several however, are easily crossed of my "I should take this seriously" list. For instance, I'm pretty sure that CDs and DVDs will never again be the way I store digital files (I used to, but several years ago I learned that they're not a great choice when it comes to archiving). So, they're off my list. However, I am anticipating that a recent decision to get rid of as much plastic as I can—including the plastic page/pockets protectors of my photo albums—isn't well supported by my current storage choice (which involves two external hard drives; one off site) and the likelihood that a page or photo will need to be replaced after a decade or so (because they will "bleed" into each other).

So I have a decision to make.

Right now, I'm leaning toward including SD cards in a back pocket of my photo albums—so that I won't have to go searching through a hard drive to find the specific book and specific story/page from that book (if it becomes necessary to do so). My thought is that the SD card will hold both the digital versions of album photos (which I print at Walgreens) and my album pages/layouts (which I print at home). If a page, photo, or book gets damaged, I'll be able to remake it.

I'll let you know in a future post what I've decided! 😊


I'd Love to Hear from You 🙂

Since I see us on this journey to master memory keeping together, I'd like to hear your thoughts. So, let's chat about:

  • Your thoughts and feelings about the post
  • What your're doing this week related to memory keeping
  • Your take on the One a Month Projects

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