Mailing Lists: Why Are They Still Here, What’s Wrong With Them, and How Can We Fix Them?

Online group discussion has been around almost as long as the Internet, but it seems we still can’t create tools for it that satisfy everyone. Starting with the first mailing list in 1972 and evolving to modern social media tools, we see tensions between people’s desire to participate in productive discussions and the struggle to [...]

Keynote at ESWC Part 2: How the Semantic Web Can Help End Users

I’ve just returned from the European Semantic Web Conference, where I gave a keynote talk on “The Semantic Web for End Users”.   My talk addressed the problem that has interested me for eighteen years: making it easier for end users to manage their information.  The thesis was that

The current state of tools for end [...]

Keynote at the European Semantic Web Conference Part 1: The State of End User Information Management

I’ve just returned from the European Semantic Web Conference, where I gave a keynote talk on “The Semantic Web for End Users”.   The slides are here . My talk addressed the problem that has interested me for eighteen years: making it easier for end users to manage their information.  The thesis was that

The current [...]

Personal (Information Management) is not (Personal Information) Management

I spent last weekend at the 2012 PIM workshop, located at CSCW 2012.  This was the 5th such workshop.  Appropriately for its setting, this one focused on “PIM in a socially networked world”—i.e., the aspects of PIM emerging in the interactions between multiple individuals.  The focus clearly highlighted the distance between two different notions of [...]

CIKM 2011 Keynote: User Interfaces that Entice People to Manage Better Information

Today I gave a keynote at CIKM 2011.  I argued that in addition to all our work on tools the process information for users, we should also be looking at tools that make people better able to apply their innate information processing talents for themselves.  I talked about the following tools that reflext that idea, [...]

Why All Your Data Should Live in One Application

A couple of days ago Adam Pash at Lifehacker posted a criticism of “everything buckets”—applications aimed at gathering every kind of information you work with into a single place.   I can’t resist responding as the article touches on some of the issues that have framed my past 15 years of research into information management.  It [...]

Is it better to be messy or neat? An etiology of messiness

When someone describes a person as a “messy” or “tidy”, we can instantly guess something about their appearance, their personality, and the way they organize their physical and digital artifacts – around the house, office, or on their computer(s). There is little disagreement around these definitions, and many stereotypes (both positive and negative) are [...]

You are a fighter pilot in personal information space: Situational Awareness & PIM

While Situational Awareness (SA) theory [] has primarily been applied to analyzing how people act in highly time-critical military and industrial roles, such as how fighter pilots assess their aerial and tactical situations to decide what maneuvers to make, it may also serve as a useful theoretical model to inform the design of future personal [...]

More progress with List.it

Our list.it note-taking plug-in for Firefox got a very nice review in the New York Times from the ReadWriteWeb blog today.  This tool has been our research group’s most successful by far, with over 14,000 users at last count.   I find this both surprising and wonderful.  Suprising, because when you look at the tool, it [...]

Measuring ambient information utility—should we read newspapers at work?

Prompted by an interesting posted by Jim Stodgill, I’m wondering whether any has tried (and whether it is even possible) to measure the actionable utility of our various ambient information sources (twitter, blogs, status updates).   By actionable utility, I’m trying to carve out the obvious entertainment utility (we certainly like hearing from our friends [...]