18.654 long URLs, long filenames, care-lessness and bad style

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 07:15:41 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 654.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: Alexandre Enkerli <aenkerli_at_indiana.edu> (57)
         Subject: Filenames, PDFs, Sloppiness

   [2] From: ken.friedman_at_bi.no (14)
         Subject: File Names

   [3] From: Pat Galloway <galloway_at_ischool.utexas.edu> (8)
         Subject: Re: 18.647 long URLs, long filenames, care-lessness
                 and bad style

         Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 06:54:28 +0000
         From: Alexandre Enkerli <aenkerli_at_indiana.edu>
         Subject: Filenames, PDFs, Sloppiness

Willard describes his file names, e.g.:

>Baldwin et al, Using scientific experiments.pdf
>Baldwin et al, Using scientific experiments NOTES.doc

Interestingly, there's been a discussion on "filing" academic PDFs
(i.e., scholarly articles retrieved online in PDF format) on the Ars
Technica Macintoshian Achaia:
<http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/ubb.x? a=tpc&f=8300945231&m=377001889631>
While it focused on software solutions to the problem of classifying
and retrieving references and citations, the simpler solutions revolved
around filenames and the typical practice was to use an "author date
(keyword)" format. Most of these answers came from hard/life/wet
sciences and there's been a few mentions of the differences with the
As we all know, improvements in computer technologies (clock speed but
also the "lifting" of limitations such as filename length) haven't
really increased our average efficiency for the most common tasks like
text editing and document filing.
Part of it has to do with sloppy programming, "feature bloat," etc.
Clearly, this has benefitted the computer industry as it has convinced
a lot of us that we constantly need "better" machines (faster
processor, more hard-disk space, more memory, bigger screen, more
And we are encouraged to do as if there weren't any limit in speed,
memory, or screen real estate.
Filenames are a trickier issue. Some of us who internalized limitations
from different OSes (Unix, MacOS, Win16) probably still use
"conservative" filenames. In fact, those of us who use the command-line
and/or (La)TeX probably refrain from spaces in filenames, even though
spaces are allowed in many contemporary OSes.
Patterns of computer use are fascinating. Anyone knows of a recent
study of filename patterns? I remember reading one (I think it was
called /What's in a Name/) but it might be fairly old and filenames
have clearly changed recently.

Personally, I tend to mix letters (lower- and uppercase) and numbers to
separate portions of a filename.
EnkerliCV.pdf (CV, in English)
EnkerliFcs.pdf (French CV)
EnkerliFcs15mar2k5.tex (source for French CV, March 15, 2005)
E105s2k5/e105mtg14n.tex (source for lesson plan (Notes) for Meeting 14
of E105, Spring 2005)
E105s2k5/e105qz2seq.pdf (PDF of Short Essay Questions for Quiz 2 in
E105, Spring 2005)
(text of Heather Maxwell's "Divas of the Wassoulou Sound:
Transformations in the Matrix of Cultural Production, Globalization,
and Identity")

Consistent use of a well-planned directory structure might also help.
In that case, I really *should* have:
But we're all lazy in different ways.

         Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 06:58:10 +0000
         From: ken.friedman_at_bi.no
         Subject: File Names


The problem of file names poses many issues.
For myself, I have solved it by using the
last name of the author or first author only,
then the year, and the the first word or two
of the title. For example

Friedman 2005 File .pdf

Sometimes, if I have a load of items in a category,
I also use a category abbreviation, f.ex., if I
were collecting a series of articles on the
hermeneutics of files, I might have

Friedman 2005 File Herm .pdf


Ken Friedman

         Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 07:00:32 +0000
         From: Pat Galloway <galloway_at_ischool.utexas.edu>
         Subject: Re: 18.647 long URLs, long filenames, care-lessness and
bad style

One teeny problem that many of us encounter is that filenames with spaces
in them are not welcome except in specific proprietary venues; as an
archivist striving for machine independence, I have to put some kind of
wrapper around such a file if I want to preserve it unchanged. This is the
reason that older mainframe geeks put underlines between the words and lots
of UNIX/Linux folk run words together to make filenames. Something of a
sectarian issue in the short term, but not sub specie aeternitatis.
Pat Galloway
Received on Mon Mar 21 2005 - 02:26:42 EST

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