Columbus, Ohio

Personal Information Management as a Study and a Practice

Full Day Seminar, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008, 9:00am-5:00pm (separate fee)

Note: The course has been substantially updated to address the impact on personal information management (PIM) of recent developments on the Web and in PDAs, smart phones and other handheld devices. Developments are pulling the traditional digital desktop apart. As this happens, we face new challenges and opportunities in personal information management. 

Audience, expertise level and maximum size: The course is designed for a general audience of up to 30 in size. Researchers will have an opportunity to learn more about the current state of PIM as a field of inquiry. But PIM is something we all must do. Everyone who attends will have an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of PIM, its fundamental problems, the roles it plays in daily life and the ways in which selected strategies and supporting tools can help. Participants will each receive a course booklet that includes slides for the presentation and an extensive bibliography of PIM-related articles and books. 

Personal Information Management (PIM) refers to both the practice and the study of the activities a person performs in order to acquire or create, organize, maintain, retrieve, use and distribute the information needed to complete tasks (work-related and not) and to fulfill various roles and responsibilities (as parent, employee, friend, member of community, etc.). PIM places special emphasis on the manipulation of information as packaged into information items such as paper documents, electronic documents, email messages, web references, handwritten notes, appointments entered in a calendar and so on. How are information items organized into a person’s life for effective use and re-use? 

The payoffs for advances in PIM are large and varied. 1) For each of us as individuals, better PIM means a better use of our precious resources (time, money, energy, attention) and, ultimately, a better quality to our lives. 2) Within organizations, better PIM means better employee productivity and better team work in the near-term. Longer-term, PIM is key to the management and leverage of employee expertise. Advances in PIM also translate into 3) improvements in education programs of information literacy and 4) Better support for our aging workforce and population. 

This tutorial provides an overview of PIM both as a field of inquiry and as an activity that all of us of necessity perform every day. The tutorial includes the following: 1.) A historical overview of PIM with special emphasis on developments over the past 20 years. 2.) An analytical breakdown of PIM with respect to key problems, activities of information management (assessment of need, finding, keeping, organization & maintenance, re-finding…) and domains of information management (email, web, e-documents, paper…). 3.) An assessment of current PIM research and development – including promising lines of empirical inquiry, theoretical development and tool development. 4.) A practical review of enduring “dos” and “don’ts” of personal information management. 5.) A overview of the many tools that promise to help with PIM. The tutorial will provide a way of evaluating these tools with respect to key activities of PIM. Special attention is given to new tool developments of the past year or so. 

Leaning objectives of course 
At the completion of the course, attendees will have: 

  1. An understanding of the several senses in which information can be personal and how to bring personal information, in each of its senses, together to form a coherent personal space of information (PSI). 

  2. A ability to map from key activities and fundamental problems of PIM to an evaluation of tools and strategies. 

  3. An understanding for directions in research & development and their likely impact on our practice of PIM. 

The course includes the following four units of 1.5 hours each: 
Unit 1: Introduction to Personal Information Management (PIM) 
Objectives: Understand what PIM is (and is not), its historical influences, and its importance. 

Unit 2: Understanding PIM and Its Key Activities 
Objectives: Understand the key activities of PIM and the challenges with each. Review relevant research from the study of information science, cognitive science and human-computer interaction. 

Unit 3: Tools and techniques in support of PIM 
Objectives: Understand better the large space of PIM-relevant tools and techniques and learn ways to assess their potential usefulness in your life. Review prototyping efforts from the fields of information science, information retrieval, database management and artificial intelligence. 

Unit 4: Practical tips for doing PIM and a look to the future 
Objectives: Complete self-assessment of PIM strategy. What is working? What isn’t? How to “mind” your personal space of information (PSI). 


William Jones is a Research Associate Professor at the University of Washington where he manages the Keeping Found Things Found project ( Jones has written the book “Keeping Found Things Found: The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management” (2007). He also co-edited the book “Personal Information Management” and a special issue on PIM for the Communications of the ACM (2006). Dr. Jones has written invited chapters on PIM for ARIST and for the Handbook of Applied Cognition. He has given numerous invited tutorials and organized two workshops on PIM including an invitational workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation and a follow-on workshop in connection with SIGIR 2006 ( Dr. Jones holds 5 patents relating to search and PIM. Dr. Jones received his doctorate in cognitive psychology from Carnegie-Mellon University.


Members $255, non-members $285, before Sept. 12, 2008
Members $285, non-members $315, after Sept. 12, 2008