One thing that always puzzled me during my PhD (which I successfully moved on from in 2004), was the relative lack of academic research being carried out on the area of Personal Information Management (PIM). Its something most computer users do a lot of every day (dealing with files, folders, email, tags, bookmarks, contacts), and often find frustrating (where was that document? my inbox is out of control!). However, back then conferences seemed to be full of research very distant from the everyday problems of users (virtual reality, 3D interfaces, intelligent agents …). It was a lonely place to be doing a PhD …
Luckily, things have moved on and there is now an active community researching PIM. The University of Washington hosted an NSF workshop on PIM in 2005, and is planning another for this year. Also CHI2006 was full of PIM-relevant papers (see my earlier post).
In this blog, I plan to write about current research and exciting development on PIM, and I've been bringing myself back up to date about who's working on the topic.
One thing that just struck me is the concentration of PIM research in the Pacific Northwest, where there are no less than 3 active research groups. Is it something in the air? Proximity to Redmond?
Here are the 3 which caught my eye.
- Microsoft Research – PHLAT
- University of Oregon – TaskTracer
- University of Washington – Keeping Found Things Found
Are there any more up there?
In future postings, I'll be reviewing their recent publications, and also moving further afield.