In this post I want to describe my little journey through the lands of grouping and tagging. - The old question remains: Should I file my records into groups or should I tag the data?
I started out with a mixed approach: Some high-level groups (like “Home”, “Travel” or “Formal”) and everything else I categorised through tags (like “to-do”, “notes”, “work”, “to-read”, etc…, ). This worked well, because the few groups give a good overview over the data, while the tags do all the detailed categorisation.
I had told myself to file each item in only one group, which was strategically satisfying, but got me in the real world into trouble: Some items I had filed in one group, but later I assumed they were in another group. (A travel insurance PDF I had filed under “Formal”, but later looked for it under “Travel”.)
My second approach was using only one group and organise everything with tags. I used one master group and not the top level in order to have the option to “collapse” my items away. All high-level groups from before ("Home, “Travel”, etc) became now tags. I structured the tags hierarchically, which was a great tool to auto-tag an item with multiple tags: E.g. I made the tag “Canberra” a child tag of “Australia” which gave me the benefit that everything tagged “Canberra” automatically is tagged “Australia” too!
Playing around with this scheme I realised I could now use groups for something else which they are very good for: Grouping similar items together. So for example I created (inside the one master group) a group for an event where I had lots of photos of plus a story document in Markdown. Or I have the webarchive of a special turntable and a review of this turntable in a group with the name of the turntable.
This is my current state, but I feel it isn’t just right either: When looking for items in DEVONthink it appears to be quite tedious to find tags in the long, long tag list given taht you have many tags. I haven’t come up which anything better yet - so the journey continues.