Note: Please make sure to watch BOTH videos and answer the questions at the end of each this week in order to earn full credit!
Mannie Fresh was able to transition from a well-known musician in the ‘90’s New Orleans hip-hop scene to the successful music producer he is today by embracing and mastering digital tools. This switch from analog to digital was all-encompassing. Mannie had to change everything about the way he did business - from collaborating with artists, producers and colleagues, to accessing, editing, and distributing his tracks, to running his business.
Of course using all those new digital tools generates lots of digital assets - files, songs, spreadsheets, images, lists, promotional materials, you name it. In any business or project, all of those assets need to be managed. Whether you are Mannie Fresh, or a freshman at Strayer, part of building your digital confidence is to learn the valuable skill of digital asset management.
Mannie Fresh didn’t start out with a plan for managing his digital assets. He had to develop one to keep up as the technology he used to make music evolved. Luckily that’s not the case today. You can learn all the tips and tricks for managing digital assets before you really start practicing the programs in the Microsoft Office Suite. This week you will compare different file storage options, learn more about the Cloud and how to use it, and you will be introduced to a variety of useful file sharing and storage best practices. This will help get you ready to dive into your digital tools.
KEEP IT ORGANIZED, BACK IT UP
For the last two weeks, we have talked a lot about the Internet. We discussed finding content and information online, but what do you do with all those results? As you begin to grow your digital skills and start making your own content - word documents, spreadsheets, digital images, you’ll need to start thinking about what to do with it. Where do you keep it, and how do you find it again quickly and easily?
Think back to the examples in Weeks 2 and 3 about searching for a job online.
Imagine that in your online research you found:
job postings with role requirements you want to learn more about
instructional videos for learning specific skills
sample resumes or online profiles to use as references or as models
Your first thought might be to print hard copies of content from web pages to read and reference later. However, not all websites have content in a format that’s easy to print, and sometimes there’s too much content to print. Some content—such as videos, audio files, and podcasts—can’t be printed at all. So how can we be sure we can save this information in a secure format that we can access later?
For these reasons and more, it is helpful to have a data management plan—a system for organizing and storing your digital assets.
WHAT ARE DIGITAL ASSETS?
Digital assets are individual files of digital content, including text documents, images, audio, and video files. A file is a unit of digital data that has an individual name. Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, GIFS, PDFs, and JPEGs are examples of digital assets.
This week, we’re going to take a closer look at why organizing and storing digital assets is important, where to save and store different types of assets on our computers, and, finally, learn best practices for how to organize and store them. This is information that you can immediately apply at home, on the job, and in school to stay organized and efficient.
WHY ARE DATA MANAGEMENT PLANS NECESSARY?
Think about waking up and getting ready for the day. Is it easier to get dressed when your clothes are scattered all over the house—or when each type of clothing and accessory is in a specific place?
Just as having a system for organizing physical things, such as clothes, allows you to get dressed easily, quickly, and purposefully, a system for organizing your digital life can help you be more efficient and more productive with your time.
In addition to helping with time management, organizing digital assets helps you manage space on your hard drives and networks. Space to store data is not unlimited, and extra space in the forms of more RAM, an external hard-drive, or more cloud storage can cost money. Being able to easily and regularly assess which files you can delete and which files you need to save allows you to effectively manage the space on your computer, and in turn, helps you manage your time and money.
Another reason to understand data management is so that you can effectively collaborate with others. Most jobs now require working from and collaboration with shared resources. You might be expected to:
locate and access files other people have created and stored
create and store files for yourself and others.
update and/or file new versions of existing files
In order to accomplish team goals, each employee needs to make sure he or she is viewing and working with the most up-to-date files. No one wants to work with incorrect or outdated information, or have his or her work deleted by accident. Teams need to understand basic conventions of storage systems in order to work together successfully.
MORE ABOUT ONLINE COLLABORATION
Working with others in an online environment may also require the use of other types of collaboration tools. Video conferencing software such as GoToMeeting, WebEx, Skype, and iMeet allow colleagues in different locations to work together in real time using webcams (so they can see each other) and screen shares (so they can all look at the same information). Instant messaging tools such as Slack, Google Chat, Yammer, and Microsoft Lync help people get answers much quicker than emailing. Moreover, project management software, like Basecamp or Trello, facilitates both large and small groups in tracking multiple pieces to multiple projects, ensuring that resources are available, and timelines are met.
TIP: If you have not heard of any of these applications and want to know more about what they do, you can always do a quick internet search for more information.
Finally, having a digital management plan helps you create an archive of your work. Most of us probably think of archives as dusty stacks of books in grand old libraries. However, most archives today are digital. Huge collections of writing, photographs, art, old movies, original research, and letters are accessible online. Moreover, curators of these collections need to be able to not only store them, but to find information quickly and accurately whenever there’s a request. Your archive does not need to be quite so formal, but it is important to store important work, school projects, priceless photos, and copies of valuable documents in a way that’s clear and efficient so that you can find the files again whenever you need them.
The key takeaway is that organizing digital assets helps you and your colleagues save time, avoid mistakes, and work productively. So how do you get started? The first step is to figure out where you’re going to put the data you create.
There are several options when it comes to saving digital assets, some of which we briefly covered in Week 1. Take a look back if you need to refresh your memory. In this section, we will focus on where data can be physically stored. For example, in organizing clothing and accessories, we would first need to know what physical structures we had available—closets, dressers, shelving units, shoe organizers, etc. Afterward, we will talk more about how to organize specific types of assets.
Files for personal use are usually stored on individual hardware, also known as saving “locally.”
Hard-drives or Hard Disk Drives
Internal: This is the most common type of storage, and comes installed with all computers. In the Windows system, the hard drive is referred to as the C: drive. When you save files to your desktops, you are saving to your hard drives, also known as saving “locally.”
External: External hard-drives are devices that attach to your computer or device, either directly or with a cable, to provide additional storage and allow you to transfer large amounts of files between two or more systems. They are also used to back up files, or to keep duplicate copies of files that are on an internal hard drive.
For example, Flash Storage Drives, are a type of external that are small, portable and can be used to access and transfer files from one computer to another. To upload or download data on a flash drive, a user inserts it into a USB port or card reader slot.
Optical Drives: Optical drives are less commonly used today, but can be useful for storing videos, photographs, and audio files on DVDs and CDs.
- Hard-drives or Hard Disk Drives
In business environments, it is more common to store content on a network. There are a few reasons why saving on a network is better than saving locally:
Allows the employer’s system administrators to manage and backup the files properly (i.e. If something happens to an individual’s computer, or someone leaves the company, the files are not lost.)
Allows other employees with the proper permissions to access files
Allows file version control—meaning changes to files are managed properly
Allows employers to have permanent and persistent access to files
You already heard about the cloud and its uses in this week’s Strayer Talk. Here’s a quick review.
Cloud storage, or online storage, is remote storage accessed through the Internet. Some cloud storage is available through stand-alone services, such as Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and iCloud. Other storage is available as part of cloud-computing services, which allow you to use Web-based word-processing, spreadsheet, or presentation applications, as well as obtaining file storage. Some examples of cloud-computing services like this are Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Prezi.
Storing data on the cloud has advantages and disadvantages. Being able to access files from any computer or device with an Internet connection is the main advantage. You can work on a file from a laptop, mobile phone, or tablet, and your latest changes will always be up to date. Disadvantages include not being able to make and save changes to files without an Internet connection. There is also the possibility of not being able to access files if there are problems with the cloud servers. Risks of data breaches are also considerations, due to potential hacking.
Many of today’s email accounts come with free access to cloud storage, giving you a great place to backup important files and documents. Even if your account does not come with extra storage, email can still be an extremely helpful way to backup and store smaller files and attachments like receipts, important communications, resumes, or reports. For example, keeping a copy of your updated resume on hand in a draft email will make it easier to find and send quickly if you meet a new contact or see a job opportunity. When you are working on a report for work or a school assignment, send a copy to yourself as backup, in case you lose your work or want to access it remotely.
BACK IT UP
No matter where you store your files, things happen. Hard drives can fail, network files can get corrupted, servers can go down at any time, and all of us can make mistakes. Backing up your files by duplicating them (or syncing them using Web services), and storing them in multiple places, ensures that you will have the data you need, even when one system fails. You can backup an entire computer, so that if anything happens to your machine, your hard-drive files can be restored, or you can back up selected files. Backup utility programs can be used to schedule backing up files on a regular weekly or monthly basis. Moreover, online backup services, such as IDrive, CrashPlan, SOS Online Backup, and Carbonite, back up to the cloud through a secure Web server. By creating redundancies for your files, you insure that if something unexpected happens to one of your devices, you’ve got a backup plan already in place.
HOW DO WE ORGANIZE DIGITAL ASSETS?
So you’ve chosen your storage option. Now what? How do you label and arrange your files so that you can find them quickly and get the right version? In this section we are going to discuss the different factors and best practices to consider when organizing and managing your files.
FILES AND FUNCTIONS
When you are deciding where to store your primary files, think about who will be using them, and how you will need to access them. Are they personal files that only you need, or files for a project that you will be working on with others? Do you want to be able to access and update files from multiple machines and devices? Are they work files that other employees need? Are they confidential files, or would it be fine for others to see them?
|HARD DRIVES||NETWORK||OPTICAL DRIVE||CLOUD|
|Assets for personal use
Backup asset files
|Work assets||Large media assets
|Assets needed remotely,
from various devices or
Backup asset files
To organize several files, the next step is figuring out a system of folders. Just like a physical paper folder, a digital folder holds a collection of files that are related. Having a logical, well-thought out system of folders, subfolders (folders within folders), and files make it easier to find files quickly.
Be aware of your computer’s default settings when you’re saving files. Operating systems, browsers, and applications have specific locations they automatically save to unless another location is selected or created by the user. In some cases, you may want to customize these locations to better suit your needs. You can see where your computer saves by default when you use the “Save As” function while saving a file.
Each project might require a different labeling system, depending on your needs. This is called a naming convention. You want to group things together in a way that make sense for how you are going to use them. Think of your files for school. If you make one folder for STRAYER and put all your files for every class in there, it will be hard to separate your ENG 115 or BUS 100 materials from CIS 105.
You also don’t want to create so many specific sub folders that you end up with only one or two documents in each. You want to make folders that separate files by topic or need, but are not so overly specific that you have to click in multiple locations to get to your files—all that time clicking around adds up.
Sample Methods for Organizing Assets:
|Method||Samples (Folder > SubFolder)|
CIS105 > Week01 > Reading
CIS105 > Week01 > Assignments
Marketing101 > Week01 > Reading
Marketing101 > Week01 > Assignments
2017 > January > BankStatements
2017 > January > HomeRepairs
Writing > BookIdeas
Writing > Inspiration
Writing > Research
JobSearch > JobPostings
JobSearch > Resumes
JobSearch > WorkSamples
JobSearch > Submissions
Naming conventions are not just for your folders. When you name individual files, and subfolders, keep in mind that you want them to be easily located by you and by others working with you. You also want them to be easily searchable.
Collecting and creating digital assets, in addition to the applications and other software that are already on our computers, takes up space. Understanding the amount of storage you need can help you store files in the optimal location, as well as make decisions on the storage device specifications you need. Do you need an external hard-drive when you buy a new computer, or will the internal hard-drive be enough? Before we talk about three ways to manage space in our data management plan, here’s a quick note about file size.
A NOTE ABOUT FILE SIZES
When measuring file size or storage space, the numbers you see represented will be listed as bytes. Bytes are a way of measuring the amount of memory a computer requires to store a piece of data. For reference, a single typed letter of the alphabet, like this A, is the equivalent of 1 byte of information. The larger the file, the more bytes of memory it needs to store it. Bytes are typically measures in KB (Kilobytes), MB (Megabytes), GB (Gigabyte) and TB (Terabyte).
|1,024 Bytes||1 Kilobyte (KB)|
|1,024 Kilobytes (KB)||1 Megabyte (MB)|
|1,024 Megabytes (MB)||1 Gigabyte (GB)|
|1,024 Gigabytes (GB)||1 Terabyte (TB)|
Compressing Folders and Files
Some files are bigger than others. Word documents and simple spreadsheet tend to be smaller files, measured in KB. Full resolution video files and digital images are some of the bigger files you may encounter and need to store, they are usually measured in GB. Compressing folders, or zipping them, allows you to store files in a compact format. This can also be useful when transferring large files back and forth on a flash drive or sending them over the Internet. File compression software such as WinZip, WinRAR, or 7-zip must be installed on your computer in order to reduce file size using this method. Right-clicking on a folder and then selecting “Send To” > “Compressed (zipped) folder” will allow you to zip the folder. To access and work with the file contents, you will need to go back and select “Extract All,” and then select or create a destination folder for the file contents to be unpacked into.
If you have a strong file naming system, it should be easy for you to go through your files and assess which ones you no longer need. Perhaps you have folders from a job you left years ago, or files for a project that you no longer need. Deleting unnecessary files is a great way to make space. Keep in mind that when you delete files from your hard drive, the file does not get deleted right away. It first gets moved to the Trash (Mac) or Recycle Bin (Windows) and can be recovered. The Trash and Recycle Bins are emptied out periodically by your operating system, and then the files are permanently deleted. You can also choose to manually empty your Trash or Recycle Bin before it would be automatically emptied. Files deleted from a flash drive or a network are permanently deleted right away.
Migrating files just means moving them. If you’re running out of room on your hard drive, you may opt to migrate older files, or files that you do not need with regularity, to an external hard drive, to CDs or DVDs, or to the cloud.
WORK FASTER AND SMARTER
No matter what industry you’re working in, what type of computer you’re using, or whether you’re working with 100 people or on your own, awareness and understanding of these data management practices will serve you well. Creating and maintaining an organized, logical data management plan is essential in the digital work environment. Knowing the optimal systems will boost your productivity and digital confidence, allowing you to work both smarter and faster as you transition into practicing specific applications.
This was a big week. You’ve made it through Week 4, and you already have some pretty important digital tools and best practices under your belt. For the remainder of the course we’re going to be putting those skills into practice as we dive into some of the key applications in the Microsoft Office Suite. We will learn three main types of application software - word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software, starting with Microsoft Word next week. You’ll get to meet Naomi Bishop, a wandering writer who uses the power of her word processing tools to help her create a life of adventure and exploration that she loves.