Readings' list

Kaptelinin, V. 2003. UMEA: translating interaction histories into project contexts. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA, April 05 - 10, 2003). CHI '03. ACM Press, New York, NY, 353-360.

Summary/ Key Points

"To carry out a higher-level task (or project) the user typically has to set up and manage a project-specific work context, that is, organize necessary resources to make them readily available when working on the project. [...] A common method to set up aproject context is to create a project folder. This method, however, has serious disadvantages. First, some files can be related to several projects at the same time. Second, more importantly, files are not the only type of information objects that may be needed to work on a project."

  1. Propose an approach to support for integrating various types of project-specific information
  2. present a system, UMEA
  3. preliminary empirical evaluation

Previous Approaches

He divides previous approaches in four categories:

  1. PIM: such as MS Outlook, Palm, ACT!, calendars, notepad, To Do lists etc.
  2. Dedicated Project Spaces: spatially defined subsets of a virtual environment. Ex ROOMS
  3. Communications based virtual work environment. Ex contact map, Taskmaster. Organized project related items around contacts.
  4. Non hierarchical architectures of information spaces: LifeStreams and Presto.

Creating project contexts through interaction Histories

The work has been informed by activity theory. The main points can be summarized as:

  1. The meaning of various objects that constitute environments, both physical and virtual, is determined by the context of activity, that is, by the relation of the objects to subjectís motives and goals.

  2. Since human activities are situated, determined by their physical and social contexts, a system should provide support for a wide variety of actual work practices.

  3. A system, as a mediational artifact, should be as transparent as possible to allow the user to focus on meaningful goals rather than interaction with technology.


Application under Microsoft Windows. It present an overview of projects and receives events from Ms Office.

The user can use three different project views: minimized overview, maximized overview, project windows. The maximized overview display a project list, a calendar, a control panel, a resources list, and a history. The user can manually add resources to the list. The history is a project specific interaction log, which contains time stamped events describing objects and actions.

The system was tested on eight users.

The user describes advantages and problems.



Disclaimer: I wrote these summaries to help me remember the content and the main ideas of the paper. Since I am interested in certain aspects, I may leave out others.

If you have any comment, contact me at