Nancy writes: Do you have topical folders within Devonthink or do you just dump everything in?
Yes, I keep groups(folders) for everything I put in Devon. At first I had broad categories filled with subcategories and subsubcategories. But following my study of Getting Things Done (great book btw) I decided I wanted a flatter file system. So I moved everything out of the broad categories. It’s easier for me to find things this way. Devon technologies says that if you use subgroups, in order for the search to work the best, you should not mix groups and documents in the same group. Documents should be kept in their own subgroup.
You mention being dissatisfied with your groups. I understand this. If you read in the blogosphere, and are familiar with del.icio.us you may have come across the word “folksonomies.” A folksonomy is a personal taxonomy: in other words, how you choose to tag/label/categorize/group your own material.
There is a movement called “The semantic web” which has wanted there to be a formal taxonomy for information using metadata so that it can be accessed more accurately then through google, et al. Del.icio.us created a phenomenon by allowing users to tag their bookmarks with any word they chose (only one word, so Getting Things Done becomes GTD or GettingThingsDone, called camelcase in Wikis) and then tags and user bookmarks are available to anyone who wants to see. Folksonomies are also the aggregate of everybody’s tagging. Needless to say, semantic philosophers and researchers are having a hayday with this phenomenon.
Using Devon, I’ve become aware that I have an initially unconscious folksonomy and that I am capable of a conscious folksonomy. By this I mean that I naturally tag/group devon and del.icio.us entries with whatever whim I fancy. But over time, I have the ability to go back and analyze my patterns and make conscious changes to how I’ve stored things and how I will change my tagging/grouping habits in the future.
An example of this is that the Bible is present in my devon database a lot because of sermons. I have had to think through how I would tag scripture references so that I would always have access to them in search. I realized that I needed to do three things consistently. The first is that I have to spell out the entire reference, without using abbreviations. So, Ephesians is always Ephesians, never Eph. Next, in documents that have a scripture reference, I have to annotate each verse, not a collection of verses. So, Ephesians 2:1-3 becomes Ephesians 2:1 Ephesians 2:2 and Ephesians 2:3. The final task is to include the actual text of each verse. This makes the scripture that I’ve used in devon immediately accessible either by verse number, or by text search.
In many ways we are becoming our own librarians. But the beauty of a folksonomy approach is that we develop our own catalog system in a way that makes sense to us.