MRIN Filing System Update

by JL Beeken on 2-27-2012

A few things lately have led me to looking at the MRIN Filing System differently.

First, Marian Pierre-Louis talked recently about the format of her genealogy information that allows her to see better. Some people prefer to lay out digital documents to review. I think I have it all memorized and don’t need to lay it out anywhere. Although that may not be true. Maybe I just think I have over 10,000 people neatly filed in my head.

Second, Randy Seaver talked at Scanfest yesterday about his surname folders filing system and how each has a separate sub-folder for photos and documents. I thought about that and decided I’d rather have just one folder with all files chronologically ordered. I thought maybe I could come up with a combination MRIN-Surname filing system. You know, as Sunday-night fun. I tried to lay out a surname filing system on its own and couldn’t. I obviously don’t understand how it works. So, I’m sticking with the MRINs.

Cuz, in the meantime, is still insisting on her ‘small export files’ as a way to share our databases. We started out at IntelliShare and a shared filing system and it degenerated very quickly into her insistence on cleaning up her database in small segments before sharing it with me. So far, we have about 12,000 people in common so this could take awhile.

I appreciate her perfectionism and all that but it totally defeats the purpose of a shared database which is to prevent duplication of effort.

The other thing about her method is that it has massacred any chance of sharing a filing system. She’s OK with the MRINs but has insisted on changing the numbering and naming format. In other words, when she sends me her ‘small export files’ and accompanying documentation I then have to renumber, rename and re-link every single source citation. On a 20-person file that can easily be 100 citations. Hardly an improvement in efficiency.

Renaming Files

One of the first hard lessons I learned about computers is that any file that’s externally linked to software will come back to bite me at some point. Nevertheless, I fell into a genealogy filing system based on linking files. And sure enough, seven years later, it’s finally come back to bite me.

Awhile back I started to rename all my ancestor photos because things had gone awry while I wasn’t looking. Based on the above, I decided to dismantle the MRIN Source Library and move all the source files into the same MRIN folders with the photos and miscellaneous documents. Then rename everything according to a consistent convention, basically MRIN followed by a date. What comes after that doesn’t really matter. In the case of photos I use -01, -02, -03 with _e, _e2, … for edits and _s, _s2, … for different sizes. For documents, I just put a short description.

Since I have no intention of re-linking renamed source documents to tens of thousands of source citations in Legacy, that’s the end of that.

The Advantage of Un-linked Files

Lest you should think I’m losing my mind, there are some advantages to killing off the linking aspect of this system:

1. I can find everything in one place. I could already do that because it’s all tagged up the yin-yang with keywords and MRINs. So, really it’s about consistent file-naming and a chronological view of the files. The files, in order, tell a story. And show more clearly what’s missing. When the file names were different formats it wasn’t so easy to see that.

I regret that I started the Source Library with ‘MRIN-extension number’. It should have been ‘MRIN-date’. (Or date-MRIN for anyone who wants to look at thousands of files at once in chronological order.)

2. I don’t have to explain MRIN Filing to anyone else, like whoever inherits my work down the road. The numbers track between¬†Legacy and the MRIN folders and that’s it. The database stands on its own with no attachments. (Except Portraits and Places and even those aren’t essential.) The ‘text of source’ transcriptions, source comments, etc – it’s all there and it’s enough.

I am relieved of the tedium of File IDs and linking documents. To see a linked document you have to click four times and then use a magnifier to move it around on the less-than-full-size Legacy screen anyway. It’s easier to just open the MRIN folder and look at the document in the context of all the other documents and photos.

In some cases, I have only photos. In some cases, only digital documents. In some cases, only paper documents. In many cases, all three. And now they’re in only two places; their MRIN digital folder and/or their MRIN paper folder.

MRIN Filing System

3. Cuz can rename and renumber to her heart’s content because I can import her research without linking her sources. IF I can convince her to use MRINs I’m not already using. So far she’s knocked every other pin out of the bowling alley. If she continues her trek into left field with the MRINs I’ll just keep renumbering them on my side and nothing will make sense on her side ever again. Because there’s still the other half of this where I send her my changes.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Cherie Cayemberg 2-27-2012 at 5:54 PM

Darn it! I missed Scanfest! Drat! :)

You know I use MRINs in my physical binders. I keep original documents filed under the appropriate MRIN and it’s really great to just be able to look someone up and flip to their designated MRIN, but honestly my computer files aren’t filed that way. They are by Surname and then various subfolders for birth, marriage, death, etc. It’s probably an absolutely crazy system, but it works for me. You know the bottom line is to do what works best for you!

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