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Towards memory supporting personal information management tools

Elsweiler, David and Ruthven, Ian and Jones, Christopher (2007) Towards memory supporting personal information management tools. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58 (7). pp. 924-946. ISSN 1532-2882

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Abstract

In this article we discuss re-retrieving personal information objects and relate the task to recovering from lapse(s) in memory. We propose that fundamentally it is lapses in memory that impede users from successfully re-finding the information they need. Our hypothesis is that by learning more about memory lapses in non-computing contexts and how people cope and recover from these lapses, we can better inform the design of PIM tools and improve the user's ability to re-access and re-use objects. We describe a diary study that investigates the everyday memory problems of 25 people from a wide range of backgrounds. Based on the findings, we present a series of principles that we hypothesize will improve the design of personal information management tools. This hypothesis is validated by an evaluation of a tool for managing personal photographs, which was designed with respect to our findings. The evaluation suggests that users' performance when re-finding objects can be improved by building personal information management tools to support characteristics of human memory.