Computer Science Department
Texas A&M University
Office: HRRB 408F
FAX: (979)847-8578

Contact me @mail, @Linkedin, @facebook

Anna Zacchi

Ph.D. in Computer Science (Dec 2011).


My main area of research is Human Computer Interaction.

I investigated how people organize documents on their computers to work on tasks or projects. I developed a Java program that offers support for using documents to structure activities.

My main research interest concerns the management of ones' work environment in support of work activities. Of particular interest is the organization of electronic resources, both files and programs, in the computer environment. My prior research on this topic is comprised of user studies and the development of new software capabilities and it is collocated at the intersection of HCI and design.

People today use the computer for many simultaneous work projects and activities. The traditional file system was developed for storing and retrieving files and it and the desktop have not evolved with users' practices. I am interested in moving the design of environments for organizing information from an archiving paradigm to an activity paradigm

For my dissertation I studied how people organize documents and how they structure their work environment in the desktop and the folder structure of systems such as Windows 95, windows XP, and MAC OS X. I then developed a new interface to support practices observed in the study that were not well supported.

Tools and practices coevolve. This has impact both on the studies and on the design. The environments provided by current systems, such as the directory structure and desktop, are very generic, and people adopt a variety of different strategies to organize and manage their documents. When new tools or technologies are introduced, people appropriate them, and use them often in ways different from what the designer envisioned. At the same time, technology changes people, it changes their habits, and also their cognitive capabilities. Design and user studies have to take this coevolution into consideration.

Methodologically I am interested in the relationship between design and user studies. I am interested in the view of design as an element of inquiry, and the goal of interaction is to support situated action: interaction is seen not as a form of information processing but as a form of meaning making. From this perspective the design of new tools and the deployment of new tools is an element of inquiry. One of the purposes of the design of a new tool is to study how people change their practices, and how they appropriate the tool. The final goal is to learn about people's practices regarding environment management, the way practices change with new tools, and the best way to support those practices.

Future research is along several lines.

The first line is an exploration of the relationship between people and environment organization. Are there common needs or common features that organizational tools should have? Do people have intrinsic behaviors regarding resource organization? During previous studies, I observed strategies employed by people. In some cases I assumed that users employed a specific strategy to overcome a deficiency in the system. If I add features to the system to overcome that specific deficiency, will users use the new features to overcome the deficiency we observed? Was the original deficiency actually the reason why end-users devised a particular strategy? Was the strategy part of people's intrinsic behavior?

The second line of research explores new hypotheses and research questions that emerged during the dissertation. In particular questions on the effects of the implementation on the use of various features , such paneling, or on the effect of explicit support vs. not support.

The third line of research consists of expanding the research to a larger domain. Current research focused on local computer system. Future research will be expanded to include cloud computing and mobile computing.

A fourth strand of research will explore support for collaboration.


  1. Zacchi, A., Goulart, A., and Magnussen, W., 2011. A framework for securing the signaling plane in the emergency services ip network (esinet). In Consumer Communications and Networking Conference (CCNC) IEEE, Las Vegas, NV, USA, 515-516.

  2. Bae, S., Kim, D.H., Meintanis, K., Moore, J.M., Zacchi, A., Shipman, F., Hsieh, H., and Marshall, C.C., 2010. Supporting document triage via annotation-based multi-application visualizations ACM, 177-186.

  3. Goulart, A., Zacchi, A., Chintapatla, B., and Magnussen, W., 2010. Lessons learned on the operation of the lost protocol for mobile ip-based emergency calls. International Journal of Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (IJISCRAM) 2, 3, 1-24.

  4. Kim, J.Y., Song, W., Schulzrinne, H., Zacchi, A., Jain, A., Chenji, H., Magnussen, C., Norton, C., Magnussen, W., and Schworer, I. The next generation 9-1-1 proof-of-concept system. In SIGCOMM 2008, Seattle, WA, USA. ACM Press.

  5. Bae, S., Hsieh, H., Kim, D.H., Marshall, C.C., Meintanis, K., Moore, J.M., Zacchi, A., and Shipman, F.M., 2008. Supporting document triage via annotation based visualizations. Proc. of ASIST 45, 1, 1-16.

  6. Zacchi, A. and Shipman, F., 2007. Personal environment management. In Research and advanced technology for digital libraries (ECDL '07), L. Kovacs, et al. Eds. Springer Berlin / Heideberg, Berlin, Germany, 345-356.

  7. Badi, R., Bae, S., Moore, J.M., Meintanis, K., Zacchi, A., Hsieh, H., Shipman, F., and Marshall, C.C., 2006. Recognizing user interest and document value from reading and organizing activities in document triage ACM, 218-225.

  8. Bae, S., Marshall, C.C., Meintanis, K., Zacchi, A., Hsieh, H., Moore, J.M., and Shipman, F.M., 2006. Patterns of reading and organizing information in document triage. Proc. of ASIST 43, 1, 1-27.

  9. Bae, S., Badi, R., Meintanis, K., Moore, J.M., Zacchi, A., Hsieh, H., Marshall, C.C., and Shipman, F.M., 2005. Effects of display configurations on document triage. Human-Computer Interaction-INTERACT 2005, 130-143.

  10. Zacchi, A., 2004. Spatial hypertexts as an interface to the file system. In Position Paper at Fourth Workshop on Spatial Hypertext (HYPERTEXT '04) (Santa Cruz, CA, USA, 2004 2004).

  11. Zacchi, A. and Amato, N., 2000. Merging physical manipulatives and digital interface in educational software. In World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2000. AACE, 1780-1781.

  12. Zacchi, A. 1999. Merging physical manipulatives and digital interface in educational software. M.S. Thesis, Texas A&M University.

  13. Zacchi, A. and Amato, N., 1999. Merging physical manipulatives and digital interface facilitates the transition to abstract knowledge. Technical Report. Department of Computer Science Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA.

  14. Widyantoro, D.H., Yin, J., El Nasr, M., Yang, L., Zacchi, A., and Yen, J., Alipes: A swift messenger in cyberspace. In Proc. of AAAI '99, 1999. 62-67.