I learned some important things in these two articles. Since they are related I am grouping them together for this article summary.
File Naming Best Practices for Digital Management
File names deserve more thought and planning than I am in the habit of giving to them. I can see how there must be a plan for file naming in a large project or repository, or with multiple people adding files to a project. If you copy numerous files into one folder for convenience or to pass along to someone else, will anyone be able to figure out what is what?
“one simple file naming convention to ensure unique and chronological filenames is using the date, the cataloging “session” (if the user catalogs more than once a day), and the cataloger’s username followed by a number that increments per file. For example, 20110413_a_esmith_001.jpg.”
And now I finally know why spaces are a bad idea in file names. On the web spaces are replaced by %20. I hate to think how many %20 I have on my computer. I will definitely start using the underscore.
“In general, try to stay away from spaces in filenames as well as the following characters:
/ : * ? “ < > | [ ] & $”. I have a vague memory of at least some of these having meaning in HTML.
In discussing this just now with my son, who is a programmer, he said the space is fine in your computer filenames, and usually punctuation is too, because Windows allows for it. The problems come when your file gets put somewhere else. I have to wonder about future changes in programming. As Dr. Riter said back in Archives class, if you find a computer in your attic 50 or 100 years from now, nobody will be able to access what is on it. But if you find a box of pictures 50-100 years old, they are still recognizable.
File Names as a Strategy to Managing Your Image Assets
A unique filename can be linked to a database which can store other information about that piece of film. This is sort of the way Samford does it. Each image is numbered sequentially when it is scanned. If I remember right, that number is the file name. They have a spreadsheet that holds that number and metadata about the image. The person scanning fills in what they can based on what is written on the photo or whatever information is with it. Later when it is uploaded to the system more research is done to add subject headings and descriptions.
Using the last digit of a file name to distinguish between variations of a single image is another obvious bit of good advice. I know that Samford saves images in several formats, and having a letter to denote that at the end of the file name is an easy way to find them.
O’s and 0’s, and 1’s and l’s are complicated unless you are looking at them next to each other. It looks like one or the other of them is going to be a problem. But the standard format I have seen is lower case letters.
“Once you come up with a system that works for you then you are ready to prepare your images for meta-data encoding. This might include putting appropriate keywords and descriptions into your TIF or Jpeg files using the File Info feature within Photoshop, or an external program such as the Image Info Toolkit, or Photo Mechanic. In addition you may want to read how you can automatically have your filename written into the Title field of your IPTC metadata, as a way of identifying images in case someone changes the filename.”
I know my phone and my camera save information about each picture I take, date and time at least. Some cameras also embed location or GPS. I had not thought about how to add information manually. It makes sense that Photoshop would have that capability. A Photoshop training session is on my list of things to do after graduation. The librarian who started Samford’s digital photo project strongly suggested that it is a good tool to know how to use.