I despise filing, but I do not think I can escape it much longer; having several full-to-bursting files of photocopied articles, archive flotsam and scrawled notes on paper, loosely organized by date and some vague topical delineation is just not working anymore — not to mention a notebook which contains everything from seminar notes, reading notes and lists of books to read, to hasty thoughts captured in some public place, shopping lists and random doodles. I also have a wiki, in which I keep a reading log of all books I read, though I am marginally more competent at organizing online and computer folders. You’d think that working with archives gives you a sense of how to organize your own papers; alas, I cannot even decide how to categorize the books on my bookshelf, let alone the intellectual sedimentation that threatens to bury me in a veritable snowdrift of unfinished thoughts.
to be morbidly honest with myself: though I have been planning to do something about this for a while, especially after discovering a wonderful guide to the historian George McTurnan Kahin’s papers, Peter Lipton’s tragic and shockingly swift death has, amongst other things, burned an indelible sense of mortality into me, and I am filled with a urgent desire for direction and resolution, or at least leaving the possibility thereof. I would like to have open topics that I am pursuing at any one time, which might help me resist the lure of tangential interests and stay focused; I’d like an organizational structure that will enable me to find past things and thoughts easily; but I guess that I also want my intellectual life (in the event that I am suddenly severed from it, which becomes, as time goes on, exponentially probable) to be traceable, navigatable, coherent, perhaps even useful to others — the way Kahin’s papers certainly are. And I suppose it’s better to start sooner than later —
— god, but all is so ultimately fragile —
I suppose the intuitive structure would be a topical one; but because my academic work straddles papers, my wiki, my blogs, del.icio.us, links, post-its, notebooks (real and virtual), desktop folders, random text files, incoherent thought-emails and correspondence with various friends and my long-suffering boyfriend, and all manner of other modes of thought, I think some sort of master map or index which can somehow categorize location, date, topic, form and content would be necessary — some kind of coordinate geometry of research — and ideally it would be all searchable or taggable. Tall orders! I must think about this more. Advice welcome.