A Unified Approach to Personal Information Management in Interactive Systems
Almost everyone carry out personal information management at one level or another consciously or not. Due to the limitations of human cognitive capabilities different kinds of tools are used to support and facilitate the processes involved in personal information management activities. Research in the area includes observations of personal information management practices in both physical office environments and in use of different computer-based systems. This has lead to an initial understanding of aspects of personal information management and identification of problems involved. Novel models and systems to support personal information management have been proposed. This includes different approaches to the organization of information. Typically different dimensions of memory about information have been utilized, such as, temporal, spatial, and topicoriented. However, research into the capabilities of these systems in terms of supporting personal information management has received little attention. This thesis includes a survey of research and studies of the area of personal information management including different approaches to the support of it in interactive systems. Based on these prior results an entity-attribute-collection-action model is described. The model aims at addressing issues and problems in personal information management and provides a foundation on which interactive personal information systems can be built. Existing interactive personal information management systems are characterized by a compartmentalized support of different types of personal information and activities. This approach aims to provide integrated and unified interaction with information in systems based on the model. A research prototype implementation of an interactive personal information management system has been developed based on the model. The user interface of the research prototype provides unified interaction across information types and information structures in the system. The prototype serves as a proof-of-concept, and allows preliminary experiments to be carried out. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight test subjects to study their personal information management habits and practices. The results generally confirmed findings from prior studies mentioned above, and indicate that problems identified in prior studies are still present even in use of present interactive personal information management systems. Additionally a pilot usability experiment was conducted involving observations of test subjects thinking aloud while performing a set of simulated personal information management tasks using the research prototype. The subjects were capable of using the research prototype for the simulated tasks and understand the underlying model. The experiment provided initial indications that the model provides a framework on which personal information management systems can be built. Future work includes further development of the research prototype, and real use experiments over longer periods of time where subjects manage their own personal information. Although only simulated tasks were given the conclusion is that the experiments have provided initial indications that the model and the unified approach may provide support for the aspects and cognitive processes involved in personal information management.