AM08 2008 START Conference Manager    

Better to Organize Personal Information by Folders Or by Tags?: The Devil Is in the Details

Andrea Civan, William Jones, Predrag Klasnja and Harry Bruce

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


People can organize documents by placing them into folders or by tagging them with labels. Discussions that compare folders versus labels are pervasive, but the lack of empirical work that compares individuals’ experiences using each method to organize information for similar tasks limits our understanding of their deeper similarities and differences. We compared participants’ experiences organizing information with both folders and labels over time. Results point to similarities in fundamental needs for structural support, independent of organization method, including greater expression of detail in organizational schemes that structure information collections and support to reorganize those schemes as collections evolve. Key differences highlight the distinct advantages that each method offers for keeping, organizing, and re-finding information. Important distinctions were revealed not through abstract discussion of folders versus labels, but rather through active and situated participant discussion that was centered around hands-on experience. These findings extend our understanding of users’ structural needs for the management of personal information collections.

START Conference Manager (V2.54.6)