Keeping found things found on the web
Jones, W., Bruce, H., & Dumais, S. (2001). Keeping found things found on the web. Proceedings of CIKMí2001, 119-126.
This paper describes the results of observational study into the methods people use to manage web information for reuse. If I think about my own experiences I'm not surprised to see that they found out that sending e-mails with links or printing web pages is more common than using bookmarks.
What I find especially valuable is the functional analysis the authors provide to explain uses of different methods.
For example, a web address pasted into a self-addressed email can provide an important reminding function together with a context of relevance. The email arrives in an inbox which is checked at regular intervals and the email can include a few lines of text that explain the URL's relevance and the actions to be taken. On the other hand, for mort users in the study, the bookmarking tool [...] provided neither a reminding function nor a context of relevance. (p.119)
- Portability - being able to take it with you
- Number of access points - being able to access information from different locations
- Preservation of information in its current state
- Currency of information - having updated version of information
- Context - remembering why it was saved
- Reminding - remembering that something has to be done with it
- Ease of integration into existing structures (e.g. e-mail with link can be easily archived with other e-mails, while bookmarks have their own structure)
- Communication and information sharing
- Ease of maintenance
The authors use these functions to compare different methods in a nice table (see the paper). It immediately made me thinking about weblogs (linkblogs ;) as a method to access online information for reuse (more on it later).
I also find this paper useful from a research perspective: the data collection method is well described and worth thinking about when doing similar studies. And it also says something very much inline with my thinking about focusing on user rather than on using specific tools.
People exibit great flexibility and creativity in their choice of methods and in their overall practice of information re-use. We begin to glimpse this flexibility and creativity only when we move away from a study of individual tools and their use and towards a study of what the user, by whatever means, is trying to accomplish. (p.125)
See also Keeping Found Things Found project for more publications, bibliography and other useful things (e.g.survey of Web keeping methods).