Don’t Take My Folders Away! Organizing Personal Information to Get Things Done
Phuwanartnurak, Ammy Jiranida
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A study explores the way people organize information in support of projects (“teach a course”, “plan a wedding”, etc.). The folder structures to organize project information – especially electronic documents and other files – frequently resembled a “divide and conquer” problem decomposition with subfolders corresponding to major components (subprojects) of the project. Folders were clearly more than simply a means to one end: Organizing for later retrieval. Folders were information in their own right – representing, for example, a person’s evolving understanding of a project and its components. Unfortunately, folders are often “overloaded” with information. For example, folders sometimes included leading characters to force an ordering (“aa”, “zz”). And folder hierarchies frequently reflected a tension between organizing information for current use vs. repeated re-use.