ASIST: Personal Information Management
Personal Information Management in the Present and Future Perfect
Tuesday, November 01, 2005, 10:30William Jones
“information science has provided no help in solving the PIM issue”Harry Bruce
Growing challenge to individuals
- Real limits to what we can get from field studies. Need to understand what happens in more depth by working with individual users. Need a databank of these deep reflections
- PIM as information literacy. Individuals better at selecting information to add to their personal information collections. Need to be better at keeping methods for refinding. Our field needs to claim this space
- “Term PIM unintentionally sets up an ideal we are unlikely to ever achieve.” It’s unlikely that we’ll ever be able to manage our information. Let PIM stand for personal information mess – let people make a mess of their lives
How is personal information construed: a la Susan Demarais, stuff you’ve seen. Other source say stuff about you (like credit bureau reports)
Is the information I’ve gathered and used in my work mine or my employer’s? Is it personal?
We need to have systems that understand us, that are our
6 controversial statements on searching, finding,
- finding is the same as refinding
- refinding personal information is the same as refinding on the web or in
- people shouldn’t have to do any work in advance to make refinding easier
- people shouldn’t have to do any work at all to refind
- refinding is always part of another task, it’s reuse that matters, not refinding
- support for losing information is as important as support for refinding.
PIM is not about finding info when you need it, but having information when you need to use it.Marcia Bates
Information as we store it tends to “silt-up” in patterns (like Bradford, Zipf). See town development or geography research. These distributions are robust and show up again and again in all social processes. This happens in information.
“The information organizes us, not the other way around” – when we collect information regularly, these patterns show up. When info bunches up in this way, if we can identify the centers of these bunches, these are the low hanging fruit, and we can just browse it, don’t need search. If we go to suburban areas, we do need classical indexing and retrieval mechanisms. In even more rural or sparse areas it’s finding a needle in a haystack. How can we use the information in the way it silts up in our personal information storesCathy Marshal
We are in the ‘epoch of forgetting’ (Umberto Eco) – we are not taking a long term view of PIM.
It’s not just about right time, right place, productivity. Keeping information in the real world is benign forgetting and occasional binge organizing, in electronic era, it’s different.Ofer Bergman
In general information management, the information is seen as communication. In PIM, it’s communication of a person with himself over time. User-subjective approach (see JASIST 2003).Building a house around a search system is “building a house around the fire escape” Reactions, discussion, questions
From NB to MB: I understand the distribution, are these really immutable phenomenon. Can things change so that we have a new distribution. For example, ( ), is different from these geographical distribution
MB replies: These stats are stable, but they manifest differently based on physical characteristics of the situation. In normal circumstances
HB: Refinding the same as finding. Ideal that you have info when you need it. Disagrees refinding is very much more frustrating than finding – very different because you know it exists. Also refinding implies that you’ve made an effort to recall info, so you’ve selected it as important or useful. Says refinding is actually a type of use. You’ve placed it in context with other things you’ve kept on the subject.
MB: Replying to CM, keep in mind that this isn’t only info – we are physical creatures, develop social, emotional, practical meaning around our physical objects. These things have symbolic meanings
CM: Replying to MB… what about a keep everything POV not represented on the panel. People get something out of throwing away. So when you encounter an object, it’s meaningful
OB: Everyone feels guilty about their messes – don’t blame the user, it’s the system
MB: False idea that it should be orderly… we follow least effort. It really isn’t worth the effort for people to spend extra effort to organizing for refinding
NB: Agree about extra effort. There are plenty of contextual clues about when we use, find, reuse something… what was I doing while this happened, who did it come from, when did this happen. When we find ourselves in similar situations along any of these dimensions, can the system make this stuff available based on context similarity.
Liz Riba – focus of people only as individual, what about shared tasks, tracking other peoples times. We are part of familys, teams. We do need to find other peoples information.
Potential conflation individuals managing information vs. management of individual’s information. There a lot of legal mandates on what is kept where and how managed. (MB responds, not to replace archives)
WJ: keeping affects how you experience information
Marianne (audience): do people keep things born digital, in digital or do they print
CM responds: people who were good at keeping print, are not so much so at digital… they trust that the bank to keep records and get sloppy with personal
Capra from VT (recent IEEE paper from IEEE magazine, see my blog) maybe finding and refinding are the same in some situations and different in others depending on familiarity with subject and other factors
Benefits of forgetting, security-conscious state
NB: your stuff migrates to the country
HB: memory is an important part of pim. Also on finding/refinding they’ve been studying personal information collections
CM: finding and refinding, depends on the situation, precision is important
WJ: emotional component
HB: a lot is on new tools, maybe should be on training, maybe we’re compounding the problem