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PhD Defense: Improving tool support for personal information management
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PhD Defense: Improving tool support for personal information management

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My PhD official abstract ... ersonal Information Management (PIM) describes the acquisition, organization, and retrieval of information by an individual computer user. Studies have shown that many ...

My PhD official abstract ... ersonal Information Management (PIM) describes the acquisition, organization, and retrieval of information by an individual computer user. Studies have shown that many users struggle to manage the volume and diversity of information that they accumulate. Much design activity has been aimed at improving integration between different PIM tools, such as file and email managers. However, in terms of making a systematic contribution to HCI knowledge, much of this cross-tool design can be criticised for a lack of empirical grounding and evaluation.

The research described in this thesis employs a user-centered design methodology to deepen understanding of PIM, and in particular to provide guidance for PIM-integration design. The research is grounded in an exploratory study of file, email and bookmark management, which is differentiated from previous studies by its cross-tool nature. The study offers several contributions including observations of participants' multiple organizing strategies -- in both tool-specific and cross-tool contexts. Also, many participants had significant numbers of overlapping folders that appeared in multiple tool contexts. This finding informs the design of WorkspaceMirror, a novel PIM-integration prototype, which allows a user to mirror changes between their file, email and bookmark folders.

The final stage of the research is a dual-purpose field study, aimed at (1) evaluating WorkspaceMirror, and (2) investigating PIM behaviour over time. Participant feedback indicates that mirroring is more appropriate for top-level folders, and illuminates a trade-off between organizational consistency and organizational flexibility. The study also reveals the incremental nature of changes in organizing strategy, and highlights the supporting nature of PIM. These and other empirical findings are used to improve previous descriptive models of PIM behaviour. Furthermore, a number of design and methodological guidelines are developed. In particular, the author emphasizes the importance of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of PIM designs from both tool-specific and cross-tool perspectives.

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PhD Defense: Improving tool support for personal information management PhD Defense: Improving tool support for personal information management Presentation Transcript

  • Thesis Overview Improving Tool Support for Personal Information Management Richard Boardman Dept. of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Imperial College London
  • Research Area
    • Personal Information Management (PIM)
      • the collection, storage, organization and retrieval of items of digital information (e.g. email, files, appointments, reminders, contacts, bookmarks) by an individual in their personal computing environment (Lansdale, 1988)
  • Research Problem
    • Evidence that many people struggle to manage their personal information
    • Design challenge: improve PIM tools
      • But under-researched (Whittaker et al., 2000)
    • Popular design route = PIM-integration
      • Problem 1: Lack of cross-tool requirements
      • Problem 2: Lack of evaluation
  • Research Objectives
    • Systematic investigation of integration as a design strategy to improve PIM-tools:
      • Develop increased understanding of PIM behaviour and needs
        • from a cross-tool perspective
      • Design, implement and evaluate a novel PIM-integration mechanism
      • Generate design and methodological recommendations
  • User-centered Design Methodology
    • Cross-tool Exploratory Study (Ch 4)
      • Semi-structured interviews
    • Design and implementation (Ch 5)
      • Incremental design approach
    • Cross-tool Main Study (Ch 6)
      • Field Trial: (a) evaluate design and (b) longitudinal study
    • Model development (Ch 4,6,7)
      • Develop models to describe findings
  • Contributions 1: Improved Knowledge on PIM
    • Comparison of PIM behaviour between files, email and bookmarks (Ch 4)
      • Improved classifications of organizing strategies (tool-specific and cross-tool)
    • Model of incremental changes in organizing behaviour (Ch 6)
      • cf. Balter 1997
    • Improvement of Barreau’s PIM model (Ch 7)
      • To reflect cross-tool, supporting, ongoing properties of PIM
  • Contributions 2: Design and Evaluation
    • WorkspaceMirror prototype (Ch 5)
      • Novel PIM-integration mechanism, driven by observations of folder overlap in Ch 4
    • Evaluation results (Ch 5,6)
      • Promise of mirroring for top-level folders
    • Design recommendations (Ch 7)
      • Pros and cons of integration
    • Methodological recommendations (Ch 7)
      • Evaluate PIM designs from tool-specific and cross-tool perspectives
  • Questions and Discussion