by Max Goodwin Van Kleek
Submitted to the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Scienceon May 20, 2011, in partial fulﬁllment of therequirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science and Engineering
With the widespread availability of digital tools for storing, accessing, and shar-ing information, why is so much information still lost, forgotten, or kept on pa-per? Theworkinthisthesisﬁndsthatsuchdisorganizationresultsfromproblemsin the designs of the personal information management (PIM) tools in commonuse today. Such problems impede information capture, force many informationforms to be left out, and cause information to be forgotten.How can these problems be mitigated? Our
study iden-tiﬁes the need to support more diverse kinds of information, while conserving time, attention, and memory for retained information items.Our ﬁrst approach to achieving these goals is to eliminate the artiﬁcial sepa-ration and homogeneity that structured PIM tools impose, so that arbitrary in-formation can be captured in any way desired. A two-year study of
, ourshort-note-taking tool, discovers that people keep notes serving 5 primary roles:reminders, reference items, progress trackers, places to think, and archives of personal value.The second reintroduces structured data to support more effective use andmanagement of information collections.
addresses the manageability of large note collections with lightweight-structured note contents and
, the access of notes by the contexts and activities at the time of cre-ation.
reinforces recollection of previously seen information, by provid-ing visualizations of all of a person’s past information activities. Finally,
addresses the challenge of managing the ever-increasing deluge of new informa-tion, by letting people delegate to software behaviors actions to be automatically taken when new information arrives.These studies identify critical needs of PIM tools and offer viable solutions.Thesis Supervisor: David R. KargerTitle: Professor2