Tuesday, August 2, 2011

folders versus tags - organisation of record collection

Using Gmail & Googledocs gives me an analogy which I will use here.

When organising emails, folders are great, however some folks struggled.

Here is an extract from an email reply from a server provider about Debian Squeeze:
Indeed, it is not a problem - we have quite a few customers who are using - albeit these customers have freshly installed Squeeze from our own images rather than upgrading themselves.
If Gmail only had folders, then this would go in 'datacentre'

Gmail has 'labels', and, if I were the thorough type, then I might give this 3 labels ... 'datacentre', 'debian', 'server'

Only having the ability to label an item once, is precisely the thing that caused Gmail to adopt labels (imap and pop3 have always had folder facilities traditionally)


'New wave' - is it 'pop', 'rock', or 'electronica'?:

The easy answer is to say 'all three', or just accept that somebody came up with the category 'New wave' because it did not conveniently fit into 'pop' or 'rock'

Reading around a few 'New Wave' top tens, here are a random smattering which for my mind, might not be out of place in a bucket labelled 'rock':
  • Talking heads
  • Elvis Costello
  • INXS
  • The Police
  • The Pretenders
However reading through other peoples lists, there are many bands which fit several of the labels 'pop', 'rock', 'electronica', or maybe non at all.


Email search - why bother with labels?

If you have a decent desktop client, then the capable search facilities make multiple labelling less important perhaps.

Using Gmail and Thunderbird together, there might actually be good reasons not to do multiple labelling as explained next.

When you create a label, an imap client will usually pull that down as a 'folder'. If you have many labels and actively multiple label, then you might want to unsubscribe from some of the labels which commonly occur together.

Using too many labels, and multiple labelling, whilst unnecessary (you have search!) might also create a difficulty / annoyance around switching between working in your cloud mail client and working imap on the desktop.

Multiple labelling, then pulling down every label, will probably make you feel that your imap client is not doing a sterling job in managing space / complexity. Simple solution is to use multiple labelling sparingly if at all.

Earlier in this post I mentioned Debian Squeeze, which has Thunderbird 3 prepackaged for you here.

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