Why do People Prefer to Navigate to their Files?

Although nearly a year "old" I finnaly scanned the paper titled "Navigating through digital folders uses the same brain structures as real world navigation"

A short video explaining its content can be viewed here

Paper: "An empirical study of long-term personal project information management" published in ASLIB

A paper published in Aslib Journal of Information Management

Klen Čopic Pucihar, Matjaž Kljun, John Mariani, Alan John Dix
An empirical study of long-term personal project information management
Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 68, Iss: 4, pp. 495 - 522

Draft available here.

Purpose
Personal projects are any kind of projects whose management is left to an individual untrained in project management and is greatly influenced by this individual’s personal touch. This includes the majority of knowledge workers who daily manage information relating to several personal projects. The authors have conducted an in-depth qualitative investigation on information management of such projects and the tacit knowledge behind its processes that cannot be found in the organisational structures of current personal information management (PIM) tools (file managers, e-mail clients, web browsers). The purpose of this paper is to reveal and understand project information management practices in details and provide guidelines for personal project management tools.
Design/methodology/approach
emi-structured interviews similar to that in several other PIM exploratory studies were carried out focusing on project fragmentation, information overlap and project context recreation. In addition, the authors enhanced interviews with sketching approach not yet used to study PIM. Sketches were used for articulating things that were not easily expressed through words, they represented a time stamp of a project context in the projects’ lifetime, uncovered additional tacit knowledge behind project information management not mentioned during the interviews, and were also used to find what they have in common which might be used in prototype designing.
Findings
The paper presents first personal project definition based on the conceptualisations derived from the study. The study revealed that the extensive information fragmentation in the file hierarchy (due to different organisational needs and ease of information access) poses a significant challenge to context recreation besides cross-tool fragmentation so far described in the literature. The study also reveals the division of project information into core and support and emphasises the importance of support information in relation to project goals. Other findings uncover the division of input/output information, project overlaps through information reuse, storytelling and visualising information relations, which could help with user modelling and enhancing project context recreation.
Research limitations/implications
On of the limitations is the group of participants that cannot represent the ideally generalised knowledge worker as there are many different kinds of knowledge workers and they all have different information needs besides different management practices. However, participants of variety of different backgrounds were observed and the authors converged observations into points of project information management similarities across the spectrum of different professions. Nevertheless, its observations and conceptualisations should be repeatable. For one, some of the issues that emerged during this work have been to different extents discussed in other studies.
Practical implications
The empirical findings are used to create guidelines for designing personal project information management tools: support the selective focus on information with the division into core and supportive information; visualise changes in project information space to support narratives for context recreation; overcome fragmentation in the file system with selective unification; visualising project’s information relationship to better understand the complexity of project information space; and support navigating in project information space on two axes: time and between projects (overlaps through information). Originality/value
The study presents a longitudinal insight into personal project information management. As such it provides a first formal definition of personal project from the information point of view. The method used in the study presented uses a new approach – sketching in which participants externalised and visualised personal information and projects they discussed. The insights derived from the study form design implications for personal project management tools for knowledge workers.

Solu - a new computer that does away with the folders' hierarchy system

Solu is a little computer that aims to fix all what PCs have been doing wrong all these years (e.g. files, folders, mice ...) based on the CEO behind this new gadget.

A long story short:

  • there is currently a Kickstarter campaign going on,
  • it will come out in 2016 for 349€,  and
  • it will be subscription based (no software to install, no storage to buy ...)

It's a nice concept very similar to my Task Information Collections (TIC) with clusters of related information together. These clusters are project based (like TIC) and based on the video it features a zoomable interface. I wonder how it scales up with thousands of files. And a question remains if we are willing to give up hierarchies and PCs for this? And some (with a reason) don't believe in its success (yet).

A 3 days #PersuasiveWorkshop is over - description of the idea, video and photos

The theme of the workshop was the use of technology to tackle loneliness. The tablets can be put on the desks in a pub (bar, coffe shop) and people can start collaborative tasks across desks by inviting other tables into these tasks such as:

  • chat with people sitting at different tables (e.g. people who come alone to a pub can start a conversation with someone if they are shy)
  • draw together on a collaborative canvas
  • play games such as hangman (person playing with another person sitting at a different table or table of friends playing with another group sitting at another table)
  • collaborative task where several tables try to complete a task for a reward (e.g. if a quiz is successfully finished all participants get a voucher, free coffe or something similar).

A big thanks to all the participants (Primož Babič, Leo Gombač, Jan Grbac, Denis Subotic, Patrik Širol, Matej Zemljak, Nikki Bernobić, Matic Kuruzar Kromar, Goran Tubić, Duško Oštrić, Matjaž Jerman, Niki Hrovatin, Marko Al Kontestabile)

Contact me or Klen if you want to join the research team.

Here is the video of the workshop:

and here are some photos

The official news on Faculty's page.

#Interact2015 PIM related posters