What happens once you categorize files into folders?



This study examined a post phase of personal information organization in an attempt to investigate the dynamics of personal information organization. To collect data, eleven participants were asked to record diary entries for a week whenever they saved or organized their information in digital forms. Then, a first interview was conducted to ask how they organized the information files. About 2-4 weeks after the first interview, a second interview was conducted to examine what happened after files were categorized into folders. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed by using a grounded theory approach to find out what decisions were made after files were categorized into folders, and why participants made such decisions. The initial analysis of the results showed that once information files are organized into folders, people keep them in the folder, move them to other personal devices, re-categorize them either by organizing them into different folders or splitting the existing category, or delete them. By focusing on the post phase of personal information organization which has been rarely investigated, this study deepens our understanding about personal information organization. In addition, the results of this study have practical implication for human computer interaction (HCI) studies in designing tools, devices and interfaces that are more effective in supporting individuals' personal information management (PIM).