Tuesday 8 March 2005

Keeping Found Things Found

There is lots of excitement about the idea of desktop search, with probably Google Desktop leading the way in this space. However search only represents one part of human information gathering behaviour.
Earlier in February the Seattle Times in the US reported on the work of a University of Washington research group, called Keeping Found Things Found. They appear to be looking beyond just the technology and asking how people manage the information they find. According to this report while they think desktop search is helping people to deal with information overload their fieldwork observations shows that people still "expressed a desire to organize their information, even if it could be easily found through search tools". Typically this appears to mean putting things into folders or some kind of hierarchical structure.
Having observed this behaviour first hand in the work place when designing intranets and shared workspaces for virtual teams etc, I wonder if this has something to do with the (or at least the perception of) confidence and context a folder or hierarchy provides pieces of information? And underlying this might even be a basic, but very human, mistrust of technology.

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