One of the first difficulties you’ll discover as your paranormal team begins to grow, is how to manage all your data files efficiently: team reports, EVPs, audio recordings, digital photography, video recordings, surveillance footage, client information, and more. In order to put your mind at ease, it’s really not that difficult, provided you create a methodology that’s logical. In so doing, it will be more manageable. The challenge can seem daunting at first, especially when you to: Decide the manner in which to organize it (e.g., what areas the data items have in common) Decide who will have access to the data (read and/or write) Decide how to protect your valuable paranormal data from corruption (intentional or accidental) Decide what software standards you will use to create, maintain, and access the your data Decide on a backup system for copying of the data in case of a system crash, hardware theft, upgrade gone awry, or accident. Things you’ll want to consider before making any final decisions about your data: Shareable – Who will need to access the data. Since data can be accessed by more than one person at a time. Low-volatility data often has many copies printed and distributed, which can cause problems if changes are made. Here is where you’ll have to make the decision as to whether the data can be changed, and by whom. Transportable – All data can easily be moved to the people who need it, it’s not a good idea with your case files. There needs to be what’s called a “version of truth.” Simply put, the ‘gold’ copy of the data that is considered the source data, or the ‘gold’ copy. Secure – Your teams data is a valuable resource and must be kept safe and secure from hackers, as well as disgruntled team members. Backups should also be made of all your valuable data and stored in a safe place other than your central access point. DVDs provide an excellent way of storing your records. Accurate – The information you’ve gathered must be reliable and precise in order to be of any value to you and your team. The older the data is, the more difficult it can be to remember the details behind the case...thus it should be checked and verified before your team is allowed to access it, as a viewable ONLY files. Timely – The data must be current and up-to-date, especially if it is time sensitive. Relevant – The data must be appropriate to the documentation being used to make decisions for the team, and your paranormal team archives. Organizing Your Data The Quagmire of Data In the Shadows Paranormal Project discovered that the best way to manage our team’s data was to create an internal forum for the team. Many of you will already have a web presence and would more than likely have enough space from your info-provider to install a forum. There are several types to choose from, and most are free from you info-provider. In the Shadows happens to have chosen SMF as it forum, and is also the platform for The Dimension Zone (for ease of management - familiarity). The best part of having a Forum for your team, is that everyone can access it via the Internet, wherever they may be as long as they have a connection. It will not only provide you the security you’ll need, but you will also allow have the ability to use tools provided by your provider to backup your forum regularly. (However we must point out too that we have learned through past experiences, not trust the info-provider to do so.) If your require assistance your info-provider usually has a help desk to provide it. Regardless of whether you decide to use an forum, or not, your folder structure on your local PC should mirror that of the forum. Formulating a Strategy Creating a File Structure for Your Data Organizing Your Files [For those of you who are already computer literate, please bear with us, or skip to the next section.] If you picture you computer’s storage area (hard drive) as a huge filing cabinet in a typical office, that stores your paper files. Your computer is much like the separate drawers to that physical filing cabinet, some can be left unlocked so everyone can access them, while other drawers are locked and keys distributed only those who require access, either to the cabinet itself, or to the information inside a particular cabinet drawer. Now relate that filing cabinet to a computer’s hard drive, and each folder on that hard drive is a drawer. Some folders are open to all, while some have limited access, or none at all. In essence when you login to the computer, your login access can act as the key to determine who can do whatever they’d like, and those that have limited or no access at all to the cabinet, folders, or files. Just like the drawers in the cabinet. (Even individual files can be protected with each folder on your computer.) As the leader of your paranormal team you will need to determine who has what level of access and to what information to your data, and at what level (drives, folders, or files - read, delete, or modify) on your computer system. Keep in mind that you can create as many folders and sub-folders as you wish (provided you have enough space on your hard drive). You can also create sub-folders within sub-folders. Your objective here is to group similar information together so it makes sense to you and can be quickly found (even months later). Your methodology of organization will more than likely be unique to you. The important thing is to have some type of system for organizing your files. Some people find it useful to have many layers of folders and sub-folders, with only closely related files in each folder. While others prefer to have fewer large folders, with a larger number of files in each folder. The key here, is to use makes sense to you and your team. After you begin creating folders, you should consider a naming convention that will be replicated to both your PC and Forum. This in itself will prove to save you a lot of time and effort in cataloging and locating your important case data, including the Team Case Reports with sub-folders (directories) and EVPs, Video, and Photographs associated with each investigation on both system. This way each member of your team access any case and any evidence ong the Forum from their own PC via the Internet. For example, the In the Shadows Paranormal Project file and forum structure look like this: Each REGION is replicated in each sub-folder with the same file structure as Africa, in this example. Of course your Paranormal Team’s geographic area will be more specific for your area, to which you may include as much detail required, depending on your teams support area. Design a Naming Convention Your Team Understands The In the Shadows Paranormal Project criteria for naming files is actually quite simple and may make sense for your team as well. We find that by using this system we can not only quickly identify the Case, but ALL associated evidence associated with it. Even if they become mis-filed in the wrong sub-folder by the team member, as long as they’ve adhered to the naming convention. Which is always verified by the Team Leader for that particular investigation by verifying and correcting to comply. In convention is rather simple, and with most operating systems, would be in compliance. (However, it should be noted that since on some host systems the file names will not allow for spaces, which is why our naming convention requires using an underline instead of a space in the filenames.) Here are some examples, see if you can identify the REGION simply by the information provided in the naming convention to see if it makes sense to you: US_CO_Morrison_Smith_John_REP_Horton_B&B_2008_01_25 UK_EN_Manchester_Smith_John_EVP_Robertson_Hotel_2010_03_04 JP_MtFuji_Aokigahara_Smith_John_PIC_Forest_2009_11_27 Country Codes The 2-letter codes shown below are supplied by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization). It bases its list of country names and abbreviations on the list of names published by the United Nations. The UN also uses uses 3-letter codes, and numerical codes to identify nations, and those are shown below. Within the each country, it would provide additional detail by using the ISO codes as well. In reference to the examples listed above. The US (United States) file is also using CO, designating the State of Colorado, whereas the UK (United Kingdom) listing is using EN for England. However the JP (Japan) does not provide a second geographic breakdown, however the location of Mt. Fuji suffices for identifying a location. This detail could in fact be broken down into more granular level as well, such as listing Counties in the US, or International Postal Codes. Depending on your requirements. Which could have a the first example looking like this: US_CO_Morrison_Smith_John_CLP_Horton_B&B_2008_01_25 City Of course the city, township, or rural community is important to identifying location and is detail that is required and necessary. In some cases, where the are is rural GPS coordinates could also be acceptable, which can be found by using Internet services such as Google Maps. Investigator/Researcher This is where you’ll identify who’s report is whose. _Last_First_ Type of Data The next separator will be the type of data designator. The options are: _REP_ – Report _AUD_ – Audio Files _EVP_ – Electronic Voice Phenomenon Clip _VID_ – Video Files _CLP_ – Video Clips extracted from a VID _SUR_ – Surveillance video files _PIC_ – Digital Photography from Still Camera Case Name This is pretty much self explanatory. _Identifier_Information_ Date and Format When sorting files on the computer and search engines, the files would be listed in chronological order when the results are displayed. Do do so, the Date Format should use a methodology that will encourage a chronological display. This is especially helpful when other teams may have investigated the same case, or you even when your team has multiple investigations with the same client. The date format is quite simple: the YEAR is always displayed first and followed by a separator, then the MONTH in a two digit format (always using two digits, preceded by a zero if necessary, another separator, and the day (being sure to again use at least two digits). Thus the date would be displayed at the end of the file name as _ _YYYY_MM_DD. Paranormal Teamwork A Step by Step Methodology
The content of this website is the copyright of World Nexus Publications © 2008-2011