Readings' list

Boardman, R. and Sasse, M. A. 2004. "Stuff goes into the computer and doesn't come out": a cross-tool study of personal information management. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Vienna, Austria, April 24 - 29, 2004). CHI '04. ACM Press, New York, NY, 583-590.

Summary/ Key Points

Two phase study investigating the cross-tool and ongoing nature of PIM. Collecting data

  1. across tools
  2. Over time

Previous research can be identified in (1) empirical studies and (2) prototype design.

Phase 1: profiling PIM practices

-semi-structured interviews with 31 users, centered on guided tours of their file, email and bookmark.

They analyzed the folder structure to investigate:

  1. the concepts used to name folders
  2. the level of folder overlap

And they compared participant's strategies between the three collections.

Phase 2: Longitudinal tracking of PIM practice

8 participants. They tracked the evolution of 3 collections. Snapshots of the folder structure, including counts of items inside folders. Snapshot taken every two weeks for three months and after five months.

During phase two the participant were also asked to try the software Workspace Mirror: when the user creates a folder, the software asks to create equivalent folders in emails and bookmarks.

Results-phase 1

Results-phase 2


Many participamt employed multiple PIM strategies within specific collections.

Should files, mail and bookmark be integrated? Maybe files and emails, even if they overlap but they also have different folders unique to the collections.

They didn't noticed any substantial change in organization in the two phases.


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.

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