Quickly Wiking Again

I've mentioned before that a lot of my neuroses surrounding productivity and creativity get enacted around the organization of my files on the computer, right?

Well they do.

I spend, probably way too much time thinking and considering the schemes that I name my files, their organization in relation to each other, their internal organization, the way their backed up. And so forth. The good thing is that I'm usually pretty happy with the way things are organized, and I tend to establish pretty flexible systems, but when I'm coming back to a couple projects after some time off or I'm restarting work on a project (at the beginning of a semester, say) I'm prone to clean house--as it were.

As the anxiety surrounding my past couple of months dragged on, and as that was wrapped up in a bunch of concerns about the state of my projects, I rearranged and reorganized things a few times, and for completely different reasons, got a lot of nothing done. Long story short, while I don't like the way that the files were back in January, I also don't like the way they are now.

The eternal debate is between putting a bunch of stuff (files/ideas) in a few baskets (folders/files) or putting a lot of little groups of stuff in a lot of baskets (folders/files). The bigger the baskets the more complex naming schemes have to be to keep the piles separate, but the chance that any one thing is in a specific basket is pretty high. So if there's folders for "archives" "current" and "output," and you're looking for an old file that you haven't touched in a few weeks, it's probably pretty likely that it's in the archives folder. And what you're working on is in current. But if you have a lot of little files, say you're writing an essay, a knitting pattern, and a play, and all have several files, you need a pretty complex naming scheme to keep things together. And you have to have this scheme in place early, because otherwise, it's a mess. In contrast, if you have 6 (or three) different folders (with their own subfolders) for different projects it becomes much easier to ignore a file/project if you think "ah, I'm not feeling very dramaturgical today." So I hope that sets the stage.

Once upon a time, rather than having files and directories like I do now, I would use programs like Voodoopad which is a great piece of software, and I used it quite successfully for a long time. The end result was that I wasn't really using it like you're supposed to, and it magnified this problem, because moving pages around in the VP was more difficult than moving the files around. And all the other wiki programs seemed less suitable (I really hate web apps, don't get me started.) But as I've been writing here recently, I think I'm ready for that kind of approach again.

So I think I've discovered the best of both worlds: ikiwiki. This is a program that reads files in the format that I like most (plain text, markdown) and then turns it into a blog. It basically works off of a flat file system except(!) it uses a couple of nifty CGI wrappers (on the webserver and as a post-commit hook) to use a versioning system like Subversion or Git, to keep track of everything. Works like a dream, and there are tons of plugins that work pretty well. I have it installed on my own machine, but I expect that once Joe and I get some stuff nailed down, I'll have a copy of it running here for some community editing and more of my rough thoughts.

Here's hoping it all works out, I'll keep you all posted.

Onward and Upward!

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