Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management


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The Future of Personal Information Management, Part I, Morgan & Claypool Publishers

Table 4. We also return to information on the Web. In a study covering six weeks of web visits for 23 participants, Tauscher and Greenberg a, b found that there was a 58 percent likelihood that the next page seen by a person was a page the person had already accessed at some point in the past. Jones et al. Especially popular are " do-nothing" methods that require no keeping forethought. These methods include 1 clicking through hyperlinks from a familiar starting point such as a web portal or home page, 2 searching again, and 3 "auto-complete" facilities that suggest completions to a partially typed web address where completions are drawn from web addresses for pages previously visited.

There is an extensive body of work on information seeking and information retrieval that applies especially to events in the C quadrant.


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It is important here to note that there is a strong personal component even in efforts to find new information, never before experienced, from a public store such as the Web. For example, our efforts to find information may be directed by an outline or a to-do list that we maintain in our personal space of information. Access to new information items may be through a query that we maintain in our personal space as a bookmark or even as a list of words we keep in written form or "in mind".

Much more can be done to use existing personal information in efforts to find new information from a public space. Equally important, much more can be done to situate our searches on the Web with respect to informational situations in the PSI that prompts these searches -- a topic of further exploration throughout this book.

The amount of information we ostensibly control continues to increase along with increases in the capacities of storage devices we own. When we use a desktop search facility, we may be surprised by what we find -- by what we "have" already. One challenge in tool support, discussed later in this chapter, is to call a person's attention to information he or she has already and that may be relevant to the current situation -- and to do this without becoming a nuisance.

Note that two other chapters in the book stand in different, complementary relationships to the current chapter. Problems experienced during finding often originate as earlier failures of keeping and organizing, as explored in Chapter 5. Searching technology, as explored in Chapter 11, can support finding in ways less dependent on careful prior keeping and organization of information. How much do differences in where and how we find information matter as long as we get the information we need?

Certainly there's a difference between new finding and re-finding. If people have a specific item in mind, their search is more focused. They have memories from previous encounters that they can use or ought to be able to use in order to narrow the scope of the current search. What about differences between finding information we control vs. We may increasingly have the experience of finding new information inside our PSI in a store that we control. Such information, though newly found, is often information we ought to have experienced that is, known was there to be found or might want to have experienced, even if we haven't -- so far.

Our reaction, for example, to the discovery of an unread email message sent to us by a friend a year or two ago -- even if only an "fyi" pointer to Web site of possible interest -- is likely different from our reaction had we discovered a pointer to the same web site in someone's blog instead. The email message is directed to us personally. Most important, the experience of failing to re-find an information item is different when the targeted item resides in a store we control vs. We're less surprised when a Web page visited yesterday is not available today. An access failure could be for any number of reasons beyond our control -- frustrating, to be sure, but "these things happen.

Do we generally show the same kind of equanimity when information under our control nominally at least can't be re-found? Leave aside documents we have authored which may represent many hours of our own work. Consider, instead, an article written by someone else which could just as easily be found on the Web as on a local hard drive. The failure to find this article inside the PSI often stands for something much larger than the loss of the information in the article itself.

Failure can come to represent a larger failure in our lives. Am I losing my mind, too? This chapter's discussion will focus primarily on fi nding in quadrant A -- where the effort is to find re-find information we've already experienced from a store that is under our control. We're almost done with this section's brief orientation. The remaining task is to consider two points in relation to this chapter's subtitle. Information management and use are interwoven. This central theme of the book encourages us to think beyond just the location and access of information.

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Information revealed through browsing or "web surfing" or as referenced in a results listing returned by a search query is subject to several different keeping decisions. Is this information useful? Now, for a current need, or later for an anticipated need? If later, does anything need to be done now to ensure its availability later on? Do reminders need to be set?

Once found, what then?

Should the information or a pointer to this information be kept? But considerations of the return trip apply even if information is used immediately and then discarded. How is the information used? Is the information sent out in an email message or used in a document? Is information used as is, or are steps taken first to interpret, make sense of, and integrate the information into a larger document? Better, the reference to this information is also copied. Portions of this reference can automatically be included, for example, in a document's bibliography. Other portions of the reference might be included in a hyperlink that makes it easy to get back to the source for more information as needed and possibly with the excerpted information highlighted in context.

In some cases, we might even want to subscribe to updates in the content of web sites from which information is excerpted.

The Computer Chronicles - Personal Information Management Software (PIMS) (1989)

Why stop here? Why not also situate an act of finding itself with respect to an informational context. For example, we see a line item in a spreadsheet budget and send an email to our group's financial person for clarification -- an act of finding. Why not record this act on an optional overlay to the budget's display? Later, when we want to review the response to our inquiry, we then have two ways to return to the email we sent and its responses: either go back to the context e. Which would you pick? Or, as another example, we see a web site describing a new product and are moved to search for blogs giving commentary on the tool.

Rather than carefully saving useful results in a separate document or through a separate bookmarking facility, why not save them as an overlay to the web site that prompted us to search? Alas, current support for the "return trip" -- from information found back to the situation that prompted its finding -- still falls far short of what we might hope for. Finding tools such as search facilities and email applications still function more as worlds unto themselves rather than as an integral part of our informational context. Almost all participants were not familiar with the term PIM and we were needed to give them some definition and samples to ease understanding of the concept.

Afterwards, all participants declared that they then know about PIM tools and activities very well. We investigated the methods the participants used to satisfy their information needs. We found that the all participants used both print and electronic resources to acquire information whether at work or home; though most of them Print resources included books One of the participant said:.

Another participant said that he would prefer to collect information from electronic resources, though, he was much eager to read them in printed format. We investigated how participants organized their personal information. They preferred web-based apps to paper based tools such as diaries, note book, file and cabinet.

Through a thorough of transcribed interviews we identified three categories of information organization styles including: systematic, semi-systematic, and messy. Systematic style refers to a specific method of organization. Semi-systematic style refers to people who are well organized individuals, however; occasionally they keep their information items in a catchall file or folder. There were different reasons for following this course of action such as being tired, having large amount of information and lack of time to organize information. Two participants 5.


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  4. They usually have stored information in the first place they ran to and when it comes to digital information they usually stored on the desktops of personal computers without a logical order. We refer to this style as messy. Table 2 shows the frequency of methods for organizing personal information. We identified two methods for storing applied by participants: 1.

    Storing temporarily and regularly synchronizing and updating, and 2. Storing permanently once for all. Whereas thirty eight per cents saved information items once and they never synchronize or modify d the stored information.

    Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management
    Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management
    Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management
    Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management
    Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management
    Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management
    Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management Keeping Found Things Found. The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management

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