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Learning to Organize the Chaos

The timing could not have been better. Just as I resolved to organize my photos, the Computer Interest Group of the Colorado Genealogical Society (CIG, to the locals) offered a program on this very topic. Of course I was right there on Monday evening to learn all I could.

The speakers, Nancy and Gary Ratay, have a lot of experience with digital preservation. He is a retired IT professional; she is the Editor of the Colorado Genealogist, the quarterly publication of the Colorado Genealogical Society. These folks have lots of digital images, and they can find one when they want it.

First, they addressed the issue of an organization structure for images. They have images of not just the portraits and cemetery photos that I want to organize, but also images of all their documents. They stressed the importance of using standardized keywords (people, places, and events) to label images and sort them into folders. They created Surname folders for people and Place name folders for items like cemetery photos and county histories. Some items go into both types of folders. Once they had this system set up, they documented it by leaving “help” sheets for their heirs and placing “help” pages and keyword lists in each folder.

Nancy and Gary also discussed types of organizers for images. In addition to mentioning the Picasa software that we have used, they suggested a more robust browser-based organizer: Adobe Bridge. The latter looks like a powerful tool but probably too complex for what I need.

I think I will emulate the organization system they use, but I will stick with Picasa to do it. I already have it installed on my computer, and I have some familiarity with it. Now, thanks to Nancy and Gary, I have an organization plan and can move ahead. Of course, as they pointed out, you cannot eliminate the chaos, you can only reduce it.

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