How Organised Are You? A Framework to Measure the Level of Organisation in Personal Information Spaces

Type of Thesis: 
Master Thesis

On a daily basis users struggle to organise and re-find their digital as well as physical information such as documents, photos or emails. Personal Cross-Media Information Management investigates the opportunities for providing users an alternative to the mainly used Desktop Metaphor by moving away from the file hierarchies that we use to store our information. On the other hand, users have constructed their own personal organisation during their life, including physical file systems in bookcases or piles of papers on a desk. Our current research aims to develop new interaction techniques for emerging PIM systems and at the same time to offer mechanisms for digitally augmenting a user's existing organisational structures (e.g. piles of papers) in order to guide and help users in managing and re-finding their physical and digital information items.


In order to gain insights into the current organisation of personal information spaces and in order to provide the right re-finding support for individual users, we have developed an organisational profile. For example, a user might have a few or many large piles on a desk, they can have broad, deep folders in the file system or just a full desktop screen. This organisational behaviour can be expressed in our organisational profile for a user.  




This thesis will investigate how we can (semi-)automatically measure the variables (e.g. a few or many piles) in our developed profile. In a first phase, the student will participate in the setup of a user study where we will investigate what it means to, for example, have a lot of piles (do we talk about having more than three or more than six piles)? In HCI research, this process is called the quantification of qualitative variables. Next, an extensible framework will be implemented where the variables of the organisational profile can be (semi-)automatically measured based on the findings from the user study. 

Background Knowledge: 
  • Java
Technical challenges: 
  • You will learn how well users are organised
  • You will learn about designing technologies from a user perspective
  • You will learn the importance of the quantification of qualitative variables 


Sandra Trullemans
Academic Year: