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For grud's sake... get organised! Part 1

Anyone who has been in Second Life® for any amount of time will have something to say about Inventory organisation.

Some leave the organisation of their inventory up to fate - whatever folder it lands is is good enough for them. Others studiously create folders and sub-folders according to their own devised systems and may even use various gadgets and tools to help keep their content in order.

I am not going to try to cover 'everything inventory' in one post. It's a big monster of a topic and so I've decided to break it into a few parts. This post is intended as an overview and a starting point for discussion. My aim is not to tell you how you should organise your inventory - but instead learn why people organise their inventory in certain ways and to start a discussion that might lead to answers on how we can better manage our inventory.

First, I'm going to share some of the factors that might affect how you choose to organise your inventory.

Secondly, I'm going to share how I organise my inventory - and provide some rationale behind why I do it this way - so that others then have something to use as a basis for comparison to articulate what they do differently, and why.

In the next post in this series (Part 2) I will provide an overview of the different types of gadgets available, what people think of them and I'll also share some specifics about the pros and cons of selected tools and gadgets.

Part 3 will provide tips and suggested approaches on inventory management, based on the discussions arising from the first and second posts.

Factors that affect how we organise our inventory

  • Length of time in second life®: an increased understanding of the environment may change how you think about your inventory and may affect the way you search or browse for content.

  • Your primary activities/purpose in-world - are you a builder/creator? do you run an in-world business? are you an artist? are you a gamer? are you a fashionista? do you make your living in second life? is it a hobby? The things you do most in world will determine which parts of your inventory you will use the most and therefore what will need to be readily accessible.

  • Your avatar - is your avatar pretty much the same from day to day - or does it change regularly? Are you male? Female? Neither? Ar you furry? tiny? animal? mineral? vegetable? Do you change your avatar based on the day hour and whim? Do you have a default 'you'? Someone who hardly ever changes their avatar is likely to organise their inventory differently to someone who switches between genders, shapes and sizes.
Question: What other factors determine how avatars organise their inventory?

Inventory organisation the Moggs way:

I have different systems based on the type of inventory. I use a variety of gadgets/tools to organise some content - for instance images and content I only need now and then.
  • Animations (system folder)
    • Key elements: Creator then pose/animation then type/style.
    • Brief summary/example: When I first started, I didn't organise by creator and I just tired to keep similar poses together. After sometime in-world, I found I liked some creators poses more than others; I'd purchased some for builds (under license); I realised that poses/animations had differnt applications, etc. The creator became more important than the type/style. I then wanted to know at a glance whether it was an animation or pose (animations have movement/breathing and poses freeze you into a static position as though 'posing' for a picture). After that, I wanted to be able to quickly access different types of poses (eg. sit, stand, lay, fly, etc). Thus my folder structure is Animations > Creator > Animation/Pose > Type/Style.
  • Body Parts (system folder)
    • Key elements: body part/type then colour then style.
    • Brief summary/example: I use subfolders to categorise by body part/type - eg. eyes, hair, horns, wings, skin, shapes, feet/paws, complete avatars (for special purpose avatars that are easily lent to a mix and match approach). Many of my body part folders do not require additional categorisaion, there are some exceptions. Hair for instance. My Hair folder is further split in to Hair - black (my main colour), Hair - colours, Hair Fair - unsorted. The colour subfolders are then further split into Hair short-mid, Hair mid-long, Hair updo-ponytail, hair - novelty/unusual. Thus my folder structure is Body Parts > Body Part/Type > subfolders to further categorise (depends on part type what they might be).
  • Clothing (system folder)
    • Key elements: clothing type then colour and name (some folders may include a subfolder before the item/item folder - for instance, accessories). I keep the number of levels to a minimum.
    • Brief summary/example: While I love certain designers in second life, I don't have a big care factor on who made what, I just know what I love and I want to be able to quickly mix and match, thus the importance of colours. I do include designer names either at the end of the product name or the end of the folder name but I don't use it as a sort category. Others place a higher importance on designer as certain designers have certain styles so by organising by designer they might be able to quickly locate formal attire or casual wear. Within each of my clothing type folders, I'll have a range of subfolders that contain single outfits or multiple parts of one item - or in some cases single system parts. The subfolders and/or individual items will be named by basic colour (if this is different from designer colour name, I may include that after the main colour as a shade) then product/line name then designer name. My accessories folder is broken down into subfolders of hats, necklaces, umbrellas, gloves, boas/scarves, etc. Thus my folder structure is Clothing Type > Subfolder if necessary > item named by colour product designer eg. black bizarre name cocktail dress - designerName)
  • Landmarks (system folder)
    • Key elements: Type followed by sub-type.
    • Brief summary/example: In my landmarks directory I have one level of subfolders they are named by 'category - subcategory'. eg. 'Shopping - Womens - General'; 'Shopping - Mens'; 'Gardens/Nuseries'; 'Art - Galleries'; 'Building' etc.I tend to delete a lot of landmarks and use search to places I'm familiar with but keep landmarkds for harder to find, less used and frequently shared places/categories. I found using the second level subfolders too annoying so now just name the folders to include the subcategories so all subfolders in landmarks sort in a logical order. I keep a 'shopping - mens' folder as menswear is much harder to find and it's useful to give to newbs and male friends who come in world. I also keep 'music - chou chou' folder - it not only includes landmarks but has notecards and the chou chou HUD and 'building' and 'newbie' landmarks. Thus my folder structure is Landmarks > Subfolder named with category and subcategory if relevant.
  • Notecards (system folder)
    • Key elements: Type. Brief summary/example: Like with landmarks, I tend to delete a lot of notecards. We often get notecards that only have a short lifespan - eg. for the duration of an event; or as a welcome to space; or to introduce you to something - there's not much point in keeping them beyond their life span - so I either archive them in a box or HUD (we'll talk about these tools later) - or delete them when they are no longer relevant. I keep manuals and instructions and file them with the product or system. I keep 'how to cards'. I keep licence agreements/rules of use with products/scripts/animations they apply to - so move them out of the notecards folder. I keep event invitations/expo advertising in a separate events folder (and file them in subfolders by month or type). I try to keep the top level of my notecards folder empty so I can see what has come in since my last login. I respond to notes as I go - and create subdirectories to file them if I need to keep them for a while. Thus my folder structure is Notecards > Subfolder named with category and subcategory if relevant.
  • Objects (system folder)
    • Key elements: Subject/Category then type/style.
    • Brief summary/example: I use subfolders with in my objects folder to organise items by subject/category - eg. art, animals, furniture, lighting, building tools, combat/weapons, media players - whatever. I then often create another set of subfolders to further break them down. Eg. Furniture might have subfolders for couches, benches - outdoor, chairs - lounge, chairs - kitchen, tables... whatever - you get the picture. Thus my folder structure is Objects > Subject/Category Subfolder and then additional subcategory folders if necessary.
  • Scripts (system folder)
    • Key elements: Type.
    • Brief summary/example: Scripts are tricky as they are often multi-purpose. But as much as possible I try to organise them by type. Eg. colour/texture; opening/sliding; packaging; etc. Thus my folder structure is Scripts > Script Type
  • Textures (system folder)
    • Key elements: Category.
    • Brief summary/example: I organise my textures by basic categories and use search/preview to find specific ones.I have well over 10,000 unique textures - if not over 20,000. I do not keep these in my inventory permanently. I keep them in a texture organiser that can be rezzed in world or worn as a HUD. It's searchable and allows me to preview items. Thus my folder structure is Textures > Subfolders for texture organisers and for textures I'm using regularly or on a project. The rest go into the organiser - the number of subfolders vary and many tend to be temporary.
  • Other In addition to my system folders I have:

    • a default appearance folder - this contains my default skin, hair, eyes, tatoo, glasses, personal radar, AO - all of the things that are part of my basic appearance. I do not have any clothes in this folder. This enables me to quickly restore my avatars appearance at any time. If I change my basic hair, I'll move the previous hair into the body parts > hair folders and will move the new style into my default appearance folder.
    • an 'Eloquence' folder - which is the group my sister and I jointly created. I keep our builds and anything related to the group in that folder and it contains subfolders according to project or subject.
    • a storage folder for items I need to archive but don't have time to do there - it contains subfolders and empty inventory box huds which i use to store items. These will be discussed further in the next post when I talk about gadgets.
    • a freebies and unsorted folder that I move anything I receive that can't be filed - or at least put in the top level of one of the system directories straight away. Often you won't know exactly what is in a freebie or gift box so I find it useful to sit them aside in a logical space until such time I can try on or rez the items so that I can evaluate and file them properly.I use sub-folders within the freebies/unsorted folder to indicate where I obtained the items (eg. hair fair, ghost hunt).
    • Moving things around in in inventory tree: I sometimes move subfolders from objects up an inventory level if I'm using them often - eg. through out my fishing frenzy, I had my fishing folder at this level. When I was helping some educators test SLoodle, I had my SLoodle folder at this level. Once these activities subside, I move the related folders back into the objects folder.

Question: What do you do differently? Why?

Is there an ideal inventory quota?

When I was a newb, I read a post somewhere on the 'Net that an ideal inventory was around 5000 - something I would now say was impossible to maintain, that is, if I didn't know Loaf (in-world Osiris Pfalz andRik Pfalz) - Loaf's inventory is somewhere between 1500-4000. Loaf always looks great, does lots of stuff which is why I have no idea how Loaf manages all of this with such a tiny inventory! I'm in awe. Loaf advises that organising as you go and deleting anything you won't use is a key to keeping your inventory this small. I do these things and still I fluctuate between 15,000 items on a good day - and 35,000 and beyond if I'm building or have been to an expo or on a hunt.

How we order our inventories directly influences what we might find helpful in a product or object name in order to organise, search and browse our inventories more efficiently. I think being able to find something efficiently is much more important than restricing the number of items in my inventory (though that, of course, can help).

I'm constantly annoyed when the designer name appears first in an object/item name - I want to know what... and when by whom, not the other way around. Where possible I rename items to suit my own system - something I obviously cannot do for 'no modify' items. Other people get just as frustrated if the colour or product name comes first... as they want their inventory to sort by designer because that makes more sense to them. Either way, providing we have the information we can use search to locate the item. If the key information does not form part of the name, then some objects become lost forever in the depths of your inventory.

Question: What are the key elements you use to sort/find/browse your inventory?

Question: Do you have diffent methods for items you use personally and items you use in builds or for business?

Plurk discussions leading up to this post:

If you are willing and have the time to do so, please respond to the questions in the comments - and feel free to include any links to related blogs, image galleries or resources related to this subject with your comments.

NOTE: I blog the same post via blogger, wordpress and livejournal. I share a link to the diqus discussion thread for the topic at the bottom of all posts where it is not integrated with the site - along with any other features that may not be available on one or the other blogging platforms.

[diqus discussion thread - other comments on this post]