Team Organization for Extemp

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This was one area of Forensics that always left me intrigued. You come to the tournaments and you see that every team has a thousand files stuffed into 3 or 4 boxes. I was always left with the same question in mind: "How do they keep all of that straight?" Although extemp is an individual event, it is imperative that competitors realize that filing and organization is a team effort that comes to the benefit of each and every individual involved.

So how do you organize extemp boxes? The easiest way is by topic. If you alpabetically arrange your files by category, it is important to balance the strength of each area. You shouldnt have a million folders covering every possible topic from aa lava to ZZ top. But at the same time, you shouldnt have seven categories (one for each continent). It is important to highlight the major areas. Look at the news. Have a file for Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. For domestic issues, have a file each for Cap and Trade and Healthcare. Some of this is obvious. And when you create these files, keep them organized for your sake and the sake of your team.

Ways not to organize? Dont organize by source. Dont have files for the Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal. Although resources make your speech more authoratative, this can be confusing and take precious time from your organization.

That has what has always boggled me. Last year I was the only full-time extemper (we had a few people who did it once or twice) so I was the only one researching and using the box so there were no worries. But this year I foresee more extempers. So seriously how do you communicate about what goes where? I remember several times last year debating about which file and article should go in. I agree that specialized topics is the way to organize, but sometimes the categories are so specific that some articles don't have a place to belong. So I can came up with a system. I just began research this week, and for some online sources, documentation is required. So I began a documentation file. For each article I pull, I write down the source, the date of the article, the headline of the story, the URL where the original source can be found, and the folder I placed it in. It may be a little more work, but I enjoy my work and it may end up being a good resource. It just seems like there should be a better alternative. What is your opinion on that?

thats a pretty complex system. If you think that you can do it, go for it. Otherwise, keep it simple. The most important thing is that you realize its imperative to be on the same page. Regardless of how you choose to organize, make sure everyone knows that is the system in place. If everyone does their own thing, every one will suffer.

So, I have competed in extemp at the collegiate level and in the last few years in particular college teams have seen a massive shift towards electronic filing. That is to say, everyone on the team copies and pastes articles to word documents, saves them to a master file and right before each tournament each competitor transfers those files to a usb/lap top.
I would imagine it more difficult to transition to this system in high school, but has anyone done so or made a push for such a change?

I suppose electronic filing is the thing for this electronic age, but the paper, book lover in me questions what happens if the laptop malfunctions or for some reason a file will not open, etc? I love trees and everything, but I am too paranoid to trust everything to a computer.

Am I being paranoid here?

Actually, computer malfunctions have happened a couple of times on my team. Luckily, almost everyone has a laptop (and we have a team laptop as back up) and the girl who this happened to had all of the files saved to a usb.

It certainly does happen, though it's no different than flying one's extemp tubs to a national tournament and them getting lost.

It's stories like that which leave me quite happy I did Prose and only had to look after my Prose book--which never left my sight. The stress over Extemp would be too much!

Electronic Devices in NFL Extemp Draw = Disqualification.

Laptops = No

Obviously, to each his own- but this system qualified 4 from my school in extemp last year to Nationals in the Ozark district (one of the harder districts there is):

I got normal extemp tubs.

Obviously, on a green file folder you can place the tab where you want to. If you place them so they don't overlap you can have five rows of tabs on green file folders.

1st Row of tabs: General Topics
2nd Row of tabs: Economic Topics
3rd Row of tabs: Foreign Countries
4th Row of tabs: People in the News
5th Row of tabs: Whatever else you want to do...I just use 4

I just went through news magazines and ripped every article out and found a place to put it. For example, it's about Guatanomo Bay? I have a Guantanamo folder in the General row (all tabs in alphabetical of course). Britain's economy? The Britain folder in Row 3.

A few notes:

1) This system works perfectly for USXers and IXers to share tubs.
2) If you do too much...highlighting, folders inside of folders, etc.....it just gets confusing. Keep it simple. One folder about the Stimulus Bill gets all the news articles about the stimulus bill.
3) You can sometimes lack info that you need but you never have to complain that you have info you don't need. Therefore, KEEP EVERY ARTICLE. Find a place for everything. Even at Nationals, you might have to give a speech about pop culture, etc. I have a Kentucky Derby file in my tubs. This helps you not only avoid situations where you lack info you need but it also allows us to have four tubs of info that we space out so more than one person can look for their info at once during extemp draw- important at Districts/major tournaments to save time.

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