Once found what then a study of keeping behaviors in the personal use of web information
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Once Found, What Then?:  A Study of "Keeping" Behaviors in the Personal Use of Web Information. William Jones, Harry Bruce The Information School University of Washington Susan Dumais Microsoft Research. The Problem. Finding things is a well-studied problem.

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Once found what then a study of keeping behaviors in the personal use of web information l.jpg

Once Found, What Then?:  A Study of "Keeping" Behaviors in the Personal Use of Web Information

William Jones, Harry Bruce

The Information SchoolUniversity of Washington

Susan Dumais

Microsoft Research

The problem l.jpg
The Problem

  • Finding things is a well-studied problem.

  • Keeping things found is not so well-studied but arises in many domains:

    • Everyday objects in our lives

    • Personal files – paper and electronic

    • Email

    • The Web

Related work l.jpg
Related Work

  • Organizing personal files

    • Files & “piles”, (Malone, 1983)

    • Location memory is limited, (Jones & Dumais, 1986)

    • Preference for browsing, (Barreau & Nardi, 1995); but see Fertig, Freeman & Gelernter (1996) for a rebuttal.

  • Organizing email

    • Similar use patterns, similar problems as for personal files, (Whittaker & Sidner, 1996)

  • Related work cont l.jpg
    Related Work (cont.)

    • Organizing the Web

      • Widespread use of “Bookmarks”, (Pitkow & Kehoe, 1996)

      • Steady increase in number with time, (Abrams Baecker & Chignell, 1998)

      • Increasing use of folders, (Abrams et al., 1998)

      • Frequent use of “Back” button within a session; infrequent use of “History”, (Tauscher & Greenberg, 1997)

    Overall research objectives l.jpg
    Overall Research Objectives

    We’re looking for answers to the following questions:

    • How do people manage information for re-access and re-use? How do people “keep found things found”?

    • What problems do people encounter?

    • What can be done to help?

    The research plan l.jpg
    The Research Plan

    • Study 1: Observe “keeping” activities as participants complete work-related, web-intensive tasks in their workplace.

      • Completed. 24 participants in all.

  • Study 2: Observe efforts to “re-find” web information for a subset of these same participants.

    • Ongoing. 13 participants in all; 9 have completed.

  • Analyze video recordings of Study 1 and Study 2.

  • Survey a larger group.

    • Initiated.

  • Prototype selectively.

  • Study 1 the participants l.jpg
    Study 1: The Participants

    • 6 Researchers.

    • 9 Information professionals -- including librarians and corporate information specialists.

    • 9 Managers.

    Participants l.jpg

    … may approach web information differently:

    • Researchers – have “direct contact” with information.

    • Information professionals – are mediators.

    • Managers – receive filtered information from colleagues, subordinates, their boss, etc.

    Study 1 the procedure l.jpg
    Study 1: The Procedure

    • Prior to the observation

      • Participants completed an email questionnaire…

      • and listed at least three work-related, web-intensive “free-time” tasks.

      • One task was selected for the observation.

    • During the observation

      • Participants were observed in their own workplace.

      • Sessions lasted about an hour.

      • An “over-the-shoulder” video recording was made of participants as they “thought-aloud” while working on the task.

      • Participants handled office interruptions (phone calls, visitors, etc.) as they normally would.

    Study 1 the results l.jpg
    Study 1: The Results

    Many “keeping” methods were observed:

    • Send email to self.

    • Send email to others.

    • Print out the web page.

    • Save the web page as a file.

    • Paste URL into a document.

    • Add hyperlink to a web site.

    • Do nothing (and enter URL directly later, search for or access from another web site).

    • Bookmark the page.

    • Write down the URL on paper.

    A functional analysis l.jpg
    A Functional Analysis

    Several functions appear to influence the choice of method:

    • Reminding

    • Context

    • Portability of information

    • Number of access points

    • Ease of access

    A functional analysis cont l.jpg
    A Functional Analysis (cont.)

    Additional functions:

    • Persistence of information

    • Preservation of information in its current state

    • Currency of information

    • Ease of integration

    • Communication and information sharing

    • Ease of maintenance

    Other notables l.jpg
    Other Notables

    • Participants seemed to distinguish between three categories.

      • Web sites used repeatedly – make it easy to access.

      • Web sites used infrequently but important to be able to access.

      • Web sites to check out later to see if useful.

    • Participants distinguished in different ways.

    Other notables cont l.jpg
    Other Notables (cont.)

    • Some participants went to great lengths to maintain a single hierarchy.

      • Print web pages to file with other papers.

      • Save email documents to filing system for e-docs.

      • Work with assistant to establish consistent organizations across paper documents, e-docs, email & favorites.

    • Keeping practices appear to vary with a person’s job and relationship to information.

    Study 2 delayed cued recall l.jpg
    Study 2: Delayed Cued Recall

    • A second study looks at how/how well people are able to get back to web sites.

      • Session 1: Participant describes each in a set of web sites they have visited recently – without including name or URL.

      • Session 2, 3-6 months later: Participants are cued with these descriptions and told to get back to the site as best they can. We observe methods used and problems encountered.

    Study 2 results so far l.jpg
    Study 2: Results So Far…

    • Success rate is high – 142 out of 151 trials or 94%

    • The site is usually located using the method first attempted -- 123 out of 142 trials or 87% of the time.

    • The most common of these “first methods” were:

      • Direct entry of a URL – 51 of 123 trials or 41%

      • Favorites – 32 of 123 trials or 26%

      • Web search – 29 of 123 trials or 24%

      • Following a hyper link from another web site – 23 of 123 trials or 19%

    Prototyping l.jpg

    … as driven by the data. Simple extensions to Add Favorites to support the following options:

    • Add a comment.

    • Save Favorite to filing system.

    • Email Favorite.

    Conclusions l.jpg

    • People use a diversity of methods to organize web information for re-access and re-use.

    • A functional analysis can help us to understand the diversity of methods observed and their relative popularity.

    Conclusions cont l.jpg
    Conclusions (cont.)

    • Methods differ in the functions they provide.

    • No single current method provides all the functions a user may need.

    • The relative importance of functions (and hence the choice of methods) depends upon the task at hand.

    Conclusions cont26 l.jpg
    Conclusions (cont.)

    • A “natural” study of people doing tasks in their workplace can be very useful.

    Observations and speculations l.jpg
    Observations and speculations

    • Participants appear to be effective at returning to a site. Success rate is high and the first method chosen usually works.

    • Direct entry, search and “hyperlink to” account for 83% of successful first-try methods for re-access. These methods require no keeping activity up front.

    • Does this reflect a trend? Will improved finding tools eliminate the need for keeping activities?

    • But… participants sometimes searched in several different “places” before finding a web site (or sometimes giving up).

    Next steps l.jpg
    Next Steps

    • Complete our analysis of video data.

    • Continue to collect survey data.

    • Extend and validate the functional analysis.

    • Broaden our exploration to look at how people manage information across organizational schemes.

    For more information l.jpg
    For More Information

    • http://kftf.ischool.washington.edu/