Keeping Found Things Found on the Web: How do users get back to relevant Web pages?
Study 1: Keeping new information for later use.

Keeping is a multi-faceted decision. People must anticipate not only whether an item will be needed later but also the circumstances of later use (time, place, form, device, etc.). People are observed to use a wide range of methods for keeping web information — only a few of which are designed for explicitly in current tools. A functional analysis helps to explain this diversity in terms of underlying function. A self-addressed email containing a web reference, for example, provides a reminding function, an informal way to take notes and insures access to the web reference at home as well as work. The functional analysis highlights functions that need to be considered in the design of supporting tools.

Important Publications

  • Jones, W., Bruce, H., & Dumais, S. (2001). Keeping found things found on the Web. In H. Paques, L. Liu, & D. Grossman (eds.) CIKM'01: Proceedings of the 2001 ACM CIKM 10th International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, Atlanta, GA, November 5-10, 2001, (ACM SIGIR & SIGMIS). New York: Association for Computing Machinery, p. 119-134. [PDF]
  • Jones, W., Dumais, S., & Bruce, H. (2002). Once found, what then? A study of “keeping” behaviors in personal use of Web information. In E. G. Toms (ed.) ASIST 2002: Proceedings of the 65th ASIST Annual Meeting. Philadelphia, PA, November 18-21, 2002, p. 391-402. [PDF]
  • Jones, W. (2004). Finders, keepers? The present and future perfect in support of personal information management. First Monday, 9, 3. [HTML]

Keeping Found Things Found on the Web: How do users get back to relevant Web pages?
Study 2: Re-finding and effectively using information.

A delayed cued recall task tested the ability of participants to re-access web sites previously visited from three to six months prior. Results: When participants were able to remember the web site from the cue, their rate of successful return was high (> 95% across conditions). However, participants were sometimes unsure in which organizations (e-documents? email? bookmarks?) to look resulting in longer times and an occasional “timeout” failure (> 5 minutes). On 2/3rds of the trials overall, participants used one of three methods requiring no explicit prior keeping action: use a web search service, navigate from a web portal or type in the first part of site’s URL and select the suggested completion (auto-complete).

Important Publications

  • Jones, W., Bruce, H., Dumais, S. (2003). How do people get back to information on the Web? How can they do it better? In INTERACT 2003: Proceedings of the 9th IFIP TC13 International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction. Zurich, Switzerland, September 1-5, 2003. [PDF]
  • Bruce, H., Jones, W., Dumais, S. (2004). Information behaviour that keeps found things found. Information Research, 10, 1. [HTML]
  • Bruce, H., Jones, W., Dumais, S. (2004). Keeping and re-finding information on the Web: What do people do and what do they need? In ASIST 2004: Proceedings of the 67th ASIST annual meeting. Chicago, IL: Information Today, Inc. [PDF]

Keeping Found Things Found on the Web: How do users get back to relevant Web pages?
Study 3: Maintaining and organizing personal information collections.

Participants completed a series of hour-long sessions during which they gave the observer a “tour” of their personal information collections including paper documents, e-documents, email messages and web references. Organizations of information are shown to serve a multitude of purposes besides simply supporting return to information. Some organizations serve as a kind of problem decomposition or project plan and helped their owners to “understand my information better”.

Fieldwork guided the construction of a Universal Labeler prototype including a Project Planner prototype that works as an add-on to a file manager (i.e., Microsoft Windows Explorer) to provide rich-text document-like views of a project plan (including a standard outline view) and ready, in-context access to the various forms of digital information (e-documents, email messsages, web pages) required to make progress on a project. (See our 5-minute video demonstration of the Planner.) A guiding principle of the Planner is that an integrative organization of information can emerge as an outgrowth of efforts to plan a project and mange its tasks.

Important Publications

  • Jones, W., Phuwanartnurak, A. J., Gill, R., & Bruce, H. (2005). Don’t take my folders away! Organizing personal information to get things done. Presented at the annual CHI conference, Portland, OR. April, 2005. [PDF]
  • Jones, W., Bruce, H., Foxley, A., & Munat, C.F. (2005). The Universal Labeler: Plan the project and let your information follow. In the Proceedings of ASIST ’05. November, 2005. [PDF]
  • Jones, W., Bruce, H., & Foxley, A. (2006). Project contexts to situate personal information. Paper presented at SIGIR 2006, Seattle, WA. [PDF]
  • Jones, W., Bruce, H., Foxley, A., & Munat, C. (2006). Planning personal projects and organizing personal information. Paper presented at ASIST 2006, Austin, TX. [PDF]