Advantages of a Digital BOS
- - Easy to organize and change. With most digital programs, it can be very quick and easy to move pages and sections around, edit long-ago text, etc.
- More environmentally-friendly. While there is still some energy cost, you are also saving significantly on paper products.
- Easier to copy & paste text. Let’s face it – most of us get our information online now. With the abundance of helpful websites, it can be very easy to copy and paste large chunks of text into one’s personal BOS, saving hours and days of laborious handwriting!
- Easier to add hyperlinks to websites. Depending on what programs you are using, you can add direct links to the sources of information you received it from for easy future reference.
- Portable via Internet or flash drive. Unlike toting around a physical BOS (which can get quite large and unwieldy over time, your whole BOS may fit on a thumb drive – or be saved on the Cloud so it’s accessible over any digital device, including your phone.
- Can be backed up and protected from accidents. Your physical BOS is vulnerable to anything from fires, spilt coffee, magical familiars with claws, not to mention just the fact that paper and inks degrade over time. In contrast, the data in a digital BOS, if backed up properly, is impervious to those kinds of physical damage.
- Can be protected with password. With a physical BOS, you may have to worry about hiding it, protecting it, maybe even locking it to keep it from prying eyes. A digital BOS can be easily password protected so it is truly private.
- Easier to incorporate multimedia.. Maybe instead of pages and pages and texts, you want to incorporate a video, pictures, maybe even GIFs! This is entirely possible with a digital BOS (depending on what software or medium you use).
Disadvantages of a Digital BOS
- - Less traditional. Let’s face it – there is still an enormous lure for a physical BOS, just because there is something that feels so good and magical about having a big, beautiful grimoire filled to the brim with occult secrets!
- Less suitable for ritual. In a similar vein, a digital BOS may be hard to use in a ritual. Consulting an iPad or a computer during a ceremony may break you or the participants out of a ritual mindset.
- Not as easy to draw, add diagrams, etc. It’s not impossible, but you may need special apps, software, or hardware to be able to add hand-drawn diagrams or pictures to your digital BOS – whereas in a physical BOS, all you need is a pen or pencil.
- Requires electronics/Internet to access. If you go somewhere without Internet or access to your digital device, you may not be able to access your digital BOS – this might be important to keep in mind for rituals in the middle of the woods!
- Can be lost if not backed up. Digital data may not be vulnerable to the same kinds of damage as physical books, but thumb drives can be lost or destroyed, data files can be corrupted, etc. For a long-term digital BOS, you should be committed to backing it up regularly or finding some other way to store it.
Options for a Digital BOS
- - Word Processor File: Using a program like Microsoft Word may be the simplest way to make a digital BOS. Some people use a single file, while others have a directory of folders with multiple documents. A newer option might be to use a system like Google Docs, which has a lot of the same functionality and has the advantage of being saved instantaneously online (it does require a Google account, though.)
- Personal website. There are now many free tools to build personal websites that don’t require a lot of training or professional. You can build a personal Wikipedia page using a number of free apps and tools. I am personally quite fond of Google Sites, which is free tool that can help you build simple but attractive websites that requires no coding experience at all – if you can use Word or Powerpoint, you can build a Google site. It also has the option to make it password-protected or public.
- Note-taking Software. A lot of note-taking software is quite well-suited for building a BOS, including having sections with individual pages, allowing for more free-form writing and note-taking, etc. EverNote is a popular choice that has a free basic plan. If you have the Microsoft Office suite, you can also use Microsoft OneNote. Look around for other software that might work best for you.
- Social Media Accounts. Many people use Tumblr or Wordpress blogs (even Pinterest boards!) as ways to keep a less traditional BOS.
- Hybrids! You can use some combination of print and digital BOSes. For instance, there are printable templates that you can use to create a physical BOS. Right now, I have everything saved in Word files that I also print out for a physical BOS. It doesn’t have to be either/or!
Backing Up Files
The biggest problem with a digital BOS is making sure that your data is backed up. If you just have your BOS on your laptop or thumb drive, your data is actually quite vulnerable – if your hard drive fails, or you drop your laptop and break it, you forget your USB drive, all your work (hours and hours of work spent recording years of experience) is gone.
To spare yourself a lot of wasted work, make sure it is backed up! If you choose to keep it on your computer, commit to backing up your files at least once a week. That can be as simple as copying your files on a thumb drive or an external hard drive.
Cloud storage is also now an option. There are many free storage options, including Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon, usually with limits of 5 or 15 gigabytes (GB). For a small monthly fee, many services such as Dropbox offer virtually unlimited storage. However, these obviously require an internet connection.
EUTM -- Digital BOS Forum
As you may know, EUTM has a subforum entitled Members’ Book of Shadows for members to share their BOS. This is also an option available to you.
HOWEVER, because this is a website public to the entire Internet, please be mindful of copyright rules. This is NOT a place for you to copy and paste entire articles you want to save, like you can in a personal BOS, unless you have the authors’ explicit permission. On the Internet, authors and writers want credit for their hard work and many do not appreciate people copying their content (even if they are cited correctly), since it may take away page views, affect search engine ranking, and ultimately hurt their ability to make money. It also hurts the Pagan community at large, because if authors cannot make an income writing all of this helpful content and support themselves, then they will have to stop writing and no one can benefit from their knowledge.
If you DO want to save that information, there are a million ways for you to keep it for yourself for private use (authors are usually fine with personal use). You can print out the article and save it, copy and paste it in a Word file, etc. Again, it is NOT APPROPRIATE to use the EUTM forum for that purpose.
What’s Okay for the EUTM Members’ BOS Forum
- - Original content that YOU have written (spells, rituals, artwork, etc.)
- Articles and information that you have the authors’ EXPLICIT PERMISSION to share and have credited appropriately to them. (for more information on proper citation, see Avoiding Plagiarism).
- Information that is already in the public domain
- Links and excerpts to articles you don’t have explicit permission to share. It is generally okay to share a PART of the article, if you mark clearly what is not your own work and who the original author is, and add some discussion about why it’s important to you. If you copy more than a couple of paragraphs, the EUTM moderators will remove it.
If the EUTM staff find that you are reposting a lot of information that is not yours (copying/pasting entire articles, citing improperly, etc.), we will give you a warning. Further violations will result in a ban.
If the EUTM staff find that you are deliberately misrepresenting others’ work as your own, you will be immediately and permanently banned.