Readings' list

Barreau, D. and Nardi, B. A. 1995. Finding and reminding: file organization from the desktop. SIGCHI Bull. 27, 3 (Jul. 1995), 39-43.


2 studies:

  1. Barreau:
    Dos, windows and OS/2. Lots used floppy to archive or transfer doc from one PC to another.
    7 managers
    Goal: info organization. Type of files used. Factor affecting decision to acquire, organize, maintain and retrieve info.
  2. Nardi:
    15 Apple employee
    Goal: filing and finding practices

Both studies included interviews: one audio taped, the other videotaped.


Preference for location based search for finding files, as opposed to search.
They call
-Location based: browse the directory
-Logical: text based search.

Some times users let applications store files in the application directory.

User rarely performed maintenance operation on their directories, preferring to use additional storage media rather than archive, delete, or compress data no longer used with frequency.
One reason for the reluctance in searching for the file is problems in remembering the name and slowness of the search.

Users consciously organize their files for easy retrieval. They have in mind the goal of being able to find a file when they name the file and when they place it in a specific location.


The location of information on the desktop also serves as a critical reminding function. Users placed files in locations where they were used to notice them.

Three types of information: Ephemeral, Working, and Archived

  1. Ephemeral: short shelf life. Users prefer to keep this in a visible place. They usually did not have a good solution for the problem of dealing with large quantities of this.
  2. Working: frequently used information relevant to the user's current work. Usually organized in folders. Usually user do not have problems to find this info. They know where the files are spatially.
  3. Archived: life shelf of years, indirectly relevant to current projects. Usually completed projects. Efforts to elaborate scheme failed because it takes more time and effort that what the info are worth.

For Nardi the most problematic issue was to deal with a large amount of ephemeral documents.


Users keep little archived information.

The real problem is with large quantities of ephemeral information.