Picture a dim room in the basement of a Detroit police station, lined with metal shelves: the shelves contain boxes and boxes of cold case files, evidence meticulously logged and categorized for no one to look at, documenting murders that will never be solved. Or the library of a small-town historical society in New Jersey: struggling with budget cuts, the board of directors has been forced to close its doors, locking its treasures inside, carefully curated and preserved but inaccessible to the public. Or a valuable data store encoded in an orphaned storage format: business records in a legacy database system that will not run on modern computers, census data on proprietary magnetic tape reels from the 1970s, your unfinished novel on a series of eight-inch floppy disks. You know the data is there, but you cannot interact with it.
An organizing system without interactions is a sad one indeed.
Interactions are the answer to two of the fundamental questions we posed back in Chapter 1: why and when are the resources organized?
The question of “why?” has been in the background (and often the foreground) of every chapter in this book thus far; whenever we select a resource for inclusion in an organizing system, describe ...