The Science of Managing Our Digital Stuff

Personal Information Management (PIM) is an activity in which an individual stores personal information items (e.g. files, emails and Web favorites) in order to retrieve them later. Despite the fact that PIM is a fundamental computer-based activity and millions of computer users manage their personal information on a daily basis, we nevertheless lack systematic scientific knowledge in this domain. The talk will review findings from a book Prof. Whittaker and I wrote, which was recently published by MIT Press. I will report on multiple studies that compared the use of the traditional folder method with various alternatives – search, tags and group information management. I will explain our counterintuitive results in terms of our new cognitive and neuropsychological findings. I will conclude by introducing the user-subjective approach, which is the first design approach dedicated specifically to PIM. Several of its implementations may be particularly useful for Microsoft products. The book was highly recommended by: Yvonne Rogers, John M. Carroll, Abigail Sellen and Robert Kraut.

Ofer Bergman
Bar-Ilan University

Series: Microsoft Research Talks