17047 >> Mary Czerwinski: Okay. It's my pleasure, everyone,...

>> Mary Czerwinski: Okay. It's my pleasure, everyone, to welcome Professor William Jones
from the University of Washington to MSR. William has been a friend of Microsoft's ever since he
left Microsoft. He used to be a Program Manager on Search; I actually worked with him for a little
while, back when I was in the Consumer Division.
William's been at University of Washington now for ten years as a Research Professor, and for
most of those ten years he's been working on Personal Information Management, culminating in
the Planner prototype which he's going to be showing you today. He's also done a bunch of
fieldwork, which unfortunately he hasn't analyzed completely yet, so maybe when he comes back
he can talk to us about what he's finding in the field.
With that, William, I'm going to let you just take it away.
>> William Jones: Thank you. So, can you hear me, am I actually being amplified now? I can't
tell; that sounds like it. Well thanks, Mary. So, what I wanted to do today is just go through a little
bit of--I'd like this to be semi-interactive, but I know that I commit a sin repeatedly, and that's try to
say too much in too many slides, so we'll see. But what I'd like to do is, I'd like to go to the next
slide, is what I'd like to do. Okay, there we go. First of all I'd like to acknowledge National Science
Foundation support under two different grants for some of the work that I'm talking about today.
So, my adjectives, though, are to provide a very, very, very brief update on the Keeping Found
Things Found project overall, and then focus more on the Planner. And I'd love for you to try the
Planner and give me feedback on it, but more important is the Planner is a way of having a
dialogue, a sort of grounding of dialogue, of what it means to create informational places in your
life. And what does that mean? And how can we do a better job of it, and the tools that we build?
So, this is the brief lightning review. It's very selective. I'm focusing on a couple of studies that
we've done over the years that point to the importance of place. And so we've heard these stories
over the years--search is going to replace the need to file or to put things into folders, tags are
going to replace, similarly are going to replace the need for these, but we consistently come up
with findings that say that, no, there is something in folders or folder-like things that is important.
So, we did a study several years ago, back when Google docks, or back when Google Desktop
Search hadn't really come out yet, and it was a thought-experiment. So it said, why do you have
folders? Well, I have folders to get back to stuff. And so how do you get back to stuff on the
Internet? Well, you search, and most people use Google Search, and said they really liked it. So
we said suppose you had something like Google Search on the Desktop--this is many years ago
again--and they said that'd be great; I'd love that, and so then, can we take away your folders?
Absolutely not; are you nuts?
So, what that did was to give us, we sort of could then drill a little bit further down. So you said
that you had folders for finding stuff--that were getting you another way to find stuff--so why do
you still need folders? And they came up with all sorts of different reasons. Folders help me
understand my information better. The act of putting stuff into folders helps me understand better,
and the folders themselves, even if the titles are cryptic to other people, they mean something to
And so this is canonical example. This was wedding planning for a traditional Thai wedding, and
you can see that the folders here are like a problem decomposition of sorts. You can see under
here there's wedding, and then there's honeymoon, there's hotel invitation cards, presentation,
wedding presentation, Thai wedding ceremony, wedding dress, wedding dress trials, and so you
get sort of this picture that it's not just a place to put stuff, it's also a place to organize your
thoughts about what you need to do and how you need to do it.
And we got comments to the effect when we said, when we threatened to take away their folders
as a hypothetical. They would say, well, folders help me to understand what I need to do next.
They remind me of what needs to be done. Okay, so that's one study among many.
More recently, under a Google award, Andrea Civan did some very nice work in our project, on
the Keeping Found Things Found project, on tagging versus the use of folders. And we found a
pretty nice situation with Hotmail versus Gmail. They're both fairly basic, their web interfaces are
both fairly basic, but in one, so what they differ in chiefly is the model.
In the case of Hotmail, it's the model is you're putting something into a folder, even if the folders
can't really be hierarchically organized. So in the other case you are tagging. You're putting labels
on things. And we had people experience both conditions across different weeks on projects'
information that was being sent to them, five articles per day on a project that they selected, like
write a book, or run a marathon.
And what we found are some interesting results that weren't immediately obvious, I think, if you
look ahead of time. Ahead of time, I think most people would say, logically, if you can get more
tags to something, then Gmail is, Hotmail, in a sense, is an improvement of Gmail, because if you
want to you can use the labels in Gmail as folders. You can set it to say, okay, only one label per
But what we found is that, actually there are some gotchas with that. And one gotcha is that if
you, it's nice to be able to label things as apples and oranges, but once you start doing that you
have to be consistent about it. So there's sort of manual effort in saying okay, it was great that I
really couldn't decide so I was going to put both apples and orange on this one, but then you
have to be consistent about it with everything that comes down the pipe later.
So there's some less obvious things like exhaustive searches are easier to do if you have things
in a partition established by the folders. I'm not going to go into this study, although it's available
and I'd be happy to provide it to you. But beyond that there was sort of a sense of, it wasn't all in
favor of labels or tags versus folders, but it was surprisingly even in terms of when people sort of
compared the what they liked and didn't like about the use of Hotmail. And again we studied
Hotmail versus Gmail, not to study the e-mail interfaces per say, but we asked people sort of step
back from that and sort of, for the model of information management. We called one is put that
there, put that in a folder, and the other is label this, sort of the sense of having a label gun.
And so anyway, that's another example. Beyond, and there were some things that--yeah?
>>: [inaudible] tagging after a while?
>> William Jones: Well, that was another study, We've had several studies. Another study we
had people over a period of time, and we tracked their accomplishment of a person project. A lot
of what we do is focused on projects, and personal projects. And the project is personal a lot
because it's just in your personal life versus your work life, but because it's not going to happen
without you.
So, a personal project at work might be finish a report, or justify your existence, or whatever. That
might be a project. And what we found, what we would do is go back and meet with people over a
period of up to twelve weeks, and one of our participants at the beginning was wildly enthusiastic
about tagging, and the potential tagging to organize all of his personal information, and then in
the last interview he said, I'm not sure, tagging really wasn't what I was hoping it would be.
So, I'm not going to argue that tagging isn't wonderful and useful, and particularly on the Web for
the wisdom of crowds effect and social situations, but I'm going to be talking about place today,
and why place still matters in a digital environment, and what that means and how we can
support it.
So, a motivation for this is this quote from the publisher of my book, “Keeping Found Things
Found”, which, here it is: “…there was a real sense of comfort and satisfaction back in the days
when things were mostly paper-based. My secretary would prepare a folder and everything I
needed was close at hand--all the correspondence, previous drafts, reviewers'
comments--everything was right there.”.
And more recently, we have this example, from somebody in the audience, as a matter of fact,
and it's an example of one [inaudible]. So, what's really nice about this is, and you, all of you who
would probably use one [inaudible] can probably relate to this in some way or another, in this
case it's things are organized under section groups by project, like AWS [phonetic] or Office 14
[phonetic], and then within a project by people or standing meetings. And for a person there are
pages according to the meeting.
So this is a paraphrase of what he told me; I was really surprised because I used to use Search a
lot to get back to notes I'd taken, but now I know just where to go. And so again there's sort of a
sense of, I picked up on a bit of a sense of satisfaction, not only was this, did this work, but there
was some reassurance in its use. So, now there is a problem that not everything will necessarily
fit into OneNote, and not everything is necessarily a note, although OneNote can handle a lot of
different things these days. And then the other case not all of us have secretaries to help us
organize things.
So, when we talk to people we get quotes like this: My information never seems to be where I am
or this quote: “I confess that I don't use this feature of Outlook a lot and when I ask myself it's
usually because of where I am when I go to a meeting. I am not naturally in the Outlook calendar
at that point.” So, now in that case, it's, they know how to get back to the Outlook calendar, of
course, but it's extra clicks, and those extra clicks are just not something they want to take the
trouble to do. Or, they may not even be reminded of it in the midst of a meeting.
And the last quote: “…all I do all day long all day long is go back and forth between programs.”
How many people, for whom, for how many people is this a problem? Do you relate to these
examples? Okay. How many people, if anybody doesn't relate to one of these quotes I'd like to
talk to you afterwards. I mean I'm serious about that, because you probably have a system that I
can learn from.
>>: [inaudible] when you start using a phone. It's--
>> William Jones: When you start using what?
>>: When you use your phone as the main conduit for a lot of this information, it doesn't feel any
more like you're switching [phonetic] since you know how to put up [phonetic]. When [phonetic]
it's on PC there's like a very clear demarcation in each program->> William Jones: Okay.
>>: Why like for example even on a Windows mobile phone or--this one's a little more like a PC.
>> William Jones: Uh huh.
>>: I do tend to feel like I switch context [phonetic], but on a Windows mobile phone where
everything's kind of on the home screen you don't switch as much. It just feels like I'm not
switching many programs.
>> William Jones: Okay.
>>: It just feels like more natural.
>> William Jones: Okay. So can you imagine, will that do you think, can you imagine that anyone
[phonetic] you would give up on your laptop, your desktop computer and just go with that? Maybe
plugged into a UI [phonetic]?
>>: [inaudible]. I was just curious when you [phonetic] said that.
>> William Jones: Okay.
>>: I actually had a different question for you. When you did the labels study versus folders, did
the interaction [phonetic] model contribute a lot? Do they call people [phonetic] [inaudible]? So in
the folder kind of it's a mouf cois [phonetic]?
>> William Jones: Right.
>>: Folder model where the label they can drag and drop it on the label, or do they type the label
on the side?
>> William Jones: Well, if you use the web Hotmail interface, it's basically->>: The Hotmail interface I've used, for [phonetic] Gmail one [phonetic].
>> William Jones: There isn't really a drag and drop in that case. The action is just, so, really the
only thing different between the two beyond the greater flexibility of labels is that they sort of
invoke a folder model where you're putting something somewhere.
And one key difference, and this is more specific to Inbox [phonetic] management, is that in that
case it actually goes out of the Inbox, and that was a complaint that people had in the Gmail
case. It never goes out of the Inbox.
>>: And that's the place problem.
>> William Jones: Yeah, yeah. And for people that are using the Inbox as task management
that's a problem.
>>: Is that a problem? Using the Inbox in Gmail [inaudible]?
>> William Jones: Well the problem there is that for people that want to know, there are some
people that want to, if something is in the Inbox, I think it's fewer people every year, but the Inbox
represents things to do.
>>: Right.
>> William Jones: And so in the case where you're labeling, basically, I think now Gmail has a
sort of a filter which is basically to show me things that aren't tagged. But, so you're sort of
filtering by the absence of tags, where as in the case of Hotmail your putting it in a folder means
it's not in the Inbox anymore. It means you've done something with it, okay? Does that make
>>: When [phonetic] you archive a message in Gmail is that not an indication that you've.
>> William Jones: Yeah, you can archive. So that's a special kind of folder, yeah. All right. I
thought this was a good quote by Licklider: “85 percent of my time was spent getting into a
position to make the decision.” So, clerical feasibility, not intellectual capability, determined a lot
of things.
So, this is, I study personal information management, and you can talk about a space of personal
information that's very large, and you can do that by thinking about the different ways in which
you relate to information. So there's information that's owned by me, or information about me,
which is not necessarily owned by me. So there's all sorts of information out there about our
credit scores, there's all sorts of information that companies are keeping about us, or
organizations that they know about us or think they know about us that is not necessarily under
our control.
This is becoming a big issue in the medical arena because there's a question about whether
people should be able to access their information online and should also be able to correct that
information. And so, and then there's the information that's directed towards us which gets very
personal at the dinner hour if someone calls you on the phone.
I think another example of that now is the flash animations that dance across a web page, and
that's another kind of information directed at you, which you cannot possibly screen out. We are
wired to attend to movement. So I've noticed a lot of those on Hotmail, by the way, just as a
Then there's information sent by us, or the information that I'm sending out to you now. Am I
getting my points across, am I creating the impression I hope to create? The same thing with
e-mail, you know, is it reaching the people we want it to reach? Are people really reading it? Are
they really understanding what we're doing?
There's an example, well, I have the example from when I was here at Microsoft back in the
nineties that we had, you know, the as [phonetic] appropriate, and they still have an expression
and it's funny how those things don't change. We had, so, we had people through the day, of
course, exchanging e-mail about this job candidate, and one of the program managers went up to
look at his web site. It was quite rare back then that a candidate would have a web site, you
know, this was like 1997, I think, or 1996. And he did have a web site, but he provided enough
information on that web site for this one person to be convinced that his solution that he'd been
talking about through the whole day would not work at all. It was really poorly conceived. And so
that was an example where the information he provided out there was actually hurting him.
And then there's all the information we've experienced in our whole life, and so how do we get
access to that again, or how do we use our experiences to get access to other information? And
so, my life bits [phonetic], of course, is an example of that. And then there's--I deliberately call this
the sixth sense--it's the sixth sense of information, personal information, as in things that are
potentially relevant to us--things that we might like to see, or things that we really don't want to
see. There's stuff out on the Internet that we really don't want to see. So that's another sense.
So, this is a graphical rendition. And I think it's somebody that did the illustrations through the
book came up with this. She did a really nice job. So, information beamed to us, information we
send out, here's the stuff that's on our hard drive and our file cabinets at home, and on our flash
memory on our digital camera, here's our experience of the world, and here's the information
that's kept about us out there, and there's sixes [phonetic] everything. It's kind of a nice little
graphical way to look at it.
I thought this was kind of--but what about--what does it mean to be personal? So I thought this
was interesting from Henderson and Card talking about rooms [phonetic]. This was a personal
place of information, back 1987. Here's something from our study more recently. Well, there's
some differences there; now there's a computer there. The paper is still around, so that's a part of
the place.
And so how can we create these places? And I think that there's been some discussion about
place versus space and Durish [phonetic] and others as a noun. I think it's also useful to talk
about it as a verb. So place is a verb, as in put something somewhere. That's important. It's an
interaction. If I put this here then I have some memory of having done that. That's an experience.
I think it's also interesting to think of that in sort of in the sense of establishing associations; I can't
quite place you. I've seen you before. Where did I see you? That's another sense of place.
And what do we have as a verb for space? Well, the verb that I hear most often is: Oh, I really
spaced that out; sorry about that. I don't know; there may be others. But, so, interesting word
play. Y [phonetic] place. Place for a sense of control. In our studies we see people talking about
the importance of place as a place they can put stuff. So even in work situations where people
are, for example, using Sharepoint [phonetic], we find that they have their own personal place
that they're putting stuff.
Why do they want it there? Well because it's under their control. One participant had the
experience of something--she had a document out on a share and it disappeared, and she lost a
couple of days of work and couldn't get back to it again. Or because she's not ready for other
people to look at it, and so she wants it here, where she can work on it.
There's also an enduring effect of browsing as a way to get back to information. Jamie Tivan
[phonetic] here did some really nice work when she was at MIT on the importance of browsing or
orienteering to get back to things, and that effect still endures. When it first came out, well, when
it was reported earlier on by Burrow and Nardy [phonetic] there was a thought that well, search,
there was a little bit of an exchange--a follow-on--many papers to the paper. They found that, if
you're familiar with that, that location-basedthey called it location-based finding, I think, or
filing--as a way to get back to things. They found that on the Desktop people preferred to sort of
noodle [phonetic] back to their things going through folders and sub-folders.
The argument back then--when was that first published, do you remember? It was the early
nineties, I think. The argument back then was, well, search was pretty--on the Desktop--was
pretty basic, you know, it's going to get better. But more recently, Bergman [phonetic], just last
year or the year before an ACM toois [phonetic], he and some other people including Steve
Widiker [phonetic] show that no, for things that are under your control, or things that sort of are
things that you are working on for files you still prefer browsing as a way to get back to things.
Now we've also have some unpublished results that say that yes that's true for the first choice
that people have for getting back to documents is browsing--browsing through folders and
sub-folders, and search is not a very common choice. And Bergman's [phonetic] study was like
maybe fifteen percent of times where that was at the first choice.
We find that for browsing--or for documents--we also looked at web pages and e-mail, and we
find that for e-mail one of the most popular choices is search to get back to information, search
and browsing, as in sort of just scrolling. And for web pages, what would you guess for the
most--there are three things that are sort of more or less equally popular for getting back to
things. What would you guess?
>>: [inaudible].
>> William Jones: Search, definitely up there. Two others.
>>: Favorites?
>> William Jones: Nope. Well, you know, favorites, we get different effects on that. In one study
we got that people just don't use it anymore, and in another study it's still enduring.
>>: [inaudible].
>> William Jones: Yeah, auto-complete. Auto-complete is very popular as a way to get back to
things. And the other thing is just basically to go--it's a variation on browsing essentially--to go: I
don't know where that is but I know can get to it from this web site. So you go to that web site and
then hyperlink back to it.
>>: So is that a variation right there, like just search versus using a URL or previously known
web site? Is that the equivalent of a place on the web? Is it actually->> William Jones: Yeah, I think so. I think that counts. It counts. I know how to get here, and then
from here I know how to get to this other place.
>>: [inaudible].
>> William Jones: Yeah, I think so. And that actually gets to an interesting thing. You know, we, I
think that one of the things when we talk about space and place in a digital context we sort of
hang ourselves by being too literal about what that means, you know. So it doesn't have to be
something like you get from the media labs at MIT or from a second life.
So I think, you know, one sense of place or space is a sense of direction. I know how to get back
to this. I know how to get to this document by if I go back to a Word document I click on the
recent, you know, the most recently opened. I know I can get back to it again. That's a sense of
direction in a digital place. Pardon me?
>>: Do you think that's actually a very primal thing we're doomed [phonetic] to?
>> William Jones: I'm arguing it is, but I don't, you know, I'm not sure where the evidence is. I'm
just going to argue with that and we can discuss it and see, and how would we go about
establishing that? That's an important thing.
>>: [inaudible] commonality between the kinds of things people browse for and the kinds of
people searched for? In terms of [inaudible] content, because the documents we tend to browse
for then->> William Jones: Not that I know of, no. What I think are some of the differences have to do
with, well, I think it matters. The interesting thing about documents is you have to have placed
them in the first place, for the most part. You know, we sort of established this document--I'm
going to create this document--is going to go in this folder, or is going to go on my Desktop.
That's still a sense of place. Whereas the e-mail it just sort of flows there and you don't have any
direct control over that, and whereas you do have well, these nice tidy events. You have--oh I
remember I looked at that yesterday, or I remember it was most likely from so-and-so. So, yeah. I
think probably one of the key things is familiarity and whether you've actually placed it initially.
Integration is another reason for place, to have everything close at hand. That gets back to that
one quote from the publisher. I think related to that as a sense of context and connection, and
some of these things are taken from Jamie Tivan [phonetic] and the perfect search engine is not
enough, so I like this, when 42 is not enough, you know, as the answer that comes from the
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it's the answer to life. And sort of more generally it's sort of a
sense of making sense of things. You can't understand what this means in isolation a lot of times.
Reminding in serendipity, so it's not just the destination, it's the journey along the way. Now that
doesn't preclude search, because you know search can also bring up things that you didn't know
about and: Oh I didn't know about that. That wasn't what I was looking for, but that's interesting,
and that's a match. Implicit tagging is another one that I think with place. If you go to a place, you
can tag with respect to the things that are nearby. So there's sort of a--and then time tracking,
recording, and journaling. Those are all things that could be freebies if we had a sense of place
as something that people consistently come back to.
Very powerful, I mean, these are very powerful features, but we don't know how to do it, I think is
part of the problem. How do we do that?
So I'm going to talk a little bit about the Planner today, and I think some of it, one thing that we
need is to support the sense of navigation, so back and forward and up and down, and--I love this
quote from “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke--“I learned by going where I have to go.” So that's
sort of ambiguous. I learned by going where I have to go. Sort of like you learn as you're going.
Placing options, so, I think three operations are very important: Ordering, grouping, and the ability
to annotate. Very important to the sense of place. There's sort of a little quip in here sort of riffing
off of if you build it they will come. If you build it will you come back to it again? So that's a
question. And the answer is, a lot of times, no. If you think about all the notes you take down on a
piece of paper that you never come back to again, you don't even look at it again.
We have quotes about that from our field work side, that sort of a lot of people would say, you
know, I find that I don't even come back to the note about half of the time. And I would argue
about half of the value in taking the note is just the act of taking it, so, whether or not you refer to
it again. Because it forces you to articulate what it is that you're going to do, and then that's also,
that again is that action is something that is in your mind as well.
I think persistence is important. I go again and again and again to search; maybe I'm not doing
things right, but I go to search on Vista and I add the Folders column, and the next time I do the
search the Folders column is missing, and then I have to add it again. So, there is a sense of I did
something but it doesn't persist.
So our motivation is sort of captured by this one quote from another one of our participants in field
work when we asked them sort of give us a tour of all their information related to a project they
selected. And then one of the questions we ask is: Give us your ideal tool. There it is, you know,
something that puts all the stuff in one place instead of having all these different places for, you
know, all of the electronic stuff, you know. I use solicitous [phonetic] for web references, I use my
mail app for e-mail, I use the things for the project, I use some of the project, but sort of task
coordination, you know, sort of organization so everything is in its own little place, and it might be
nice if there was some place to have it all in one place. So I think that is a reasonable thing--a
reasonable goal.
So that's our motivation for the Planner, and a little bit more on that. Suppose that
organization--effective organization of information could just happen, that you didn't have to think
about now I'm going to organize this stuff, but as the natural outgrowth of things you do already,
like planning. Your information is organized. So, but how do people plan? Well, they plan all over
the place. People plan, well, they don't use Microsoft Project to plan, okay? They plan while
they're driving, while they're walking, talking, notes scribbled on a piece of paper. Those are the
ways that people plan.
So the Planner is basically a document-like overlay to the file system. And with the Planner the
file system can also be used to organize other forms of information besides documents and files.
It can also organize e-mail message and web pages. And so let's see if I can get to this demo.
>> Demo: When I start to make project like our home remodel, I first try to write my ideas down.
What's the budget going to be like? Which rooms will we change? I just write thoughts down
freestyle as these come to me. I used to use paper; then I used a word processor. Now, I use the
Planner. As I get my thoughts together, the Planner helps me to bring together all kinds of
information that I'll need to make decisions and to finish the tasks.
Photos, drawings, spreadsheets, pointers to e-mail messages, blogs, and conventional web
pages, too. Notes, due dates, and meeting times. Everything comes together in ways that work
for me. Most important, organization happens without asking me to trust in some
application-specific database or some nebulous cloud up on the Web. Instead, organization is
done using folders, files, and shortcuts like [phonetic] a good, old, boring file system.
The Planner provides document-like views of my file system and much more. As I type and edit
just as I would in any document, I'm also annotating, linking, and grouping in the file system.
Even as I think and plan, I'm also organizing. How does this happen? Let's go back to my
planning for the home remodel.
After four weeks, the planning document that started out small has gotten a lot bigger. Just as I
might do in a word processor, I can switch in the Planner to an outline mode for better control
over which parts of the plan I see and how these parts are structured. Now it's time to make some
decisions about sound systems for the house. First, I'll pull together some good information I
found from several web sites. I do this using a Planner feature called drag & link. As I drag a few
key sentences from each web site into the plan, links are automatically created that I can later
click to get back to the source.
Of course I can drag and link from other kinds of information, too. For example, from a Word
document about health homes that my architect sent me or an e-mail from a contractor about
schedules. I can also add my own notes anywhere in a plan. Using the Planner for a project
sometimes I start out by just dragging and linking and typing in a lot of notes as a kind of
brainstorm. Then later, I start to organize links and notes under various headings and
sub-headings as I start to understand the project better.
And I don't need to leave the Planner to get work done. For example, I can create a document or
an e-mail message from right inside the home remodel plan. In this case, I sent an e-mail to our
contractor, Joe, about granite countertops. Of course, the e-mail itself it kept in storage managed
by my e-mail application, but by creating the e-mail message from within my remodel plan, I have
a link to the message in the context of remodel tasks [phonetic].
What's especially nice about this in-context creation is I can easily go back to a document or
e-mail message later while I'm thinking about the related remodel task. Here I can check to see if
Joe has responded to my e-mail message yet. Now what's really interesting about the Planner is
that it's basically just another view into my file folder organization. As I add a new heading to my
plan, for example, for something like design on faucets, this is just another way of adding a folder.
Essentially, the Planner lets me use my file folders to organize not only files but also other kinds
of information that I need for the project, such as e-mail messages and web pages.
And in the Planner I can also order headings and sub-headings however I like. Also, using the
Planner, folders can stand for tasks that need to be completed. For example, design on
countertops is both a folder holding countertop information and a task that needs to be completed
by a certain date. The Planner includes an option to set calendar reminders which then appear in
my digital calendar. And I can export any planning view, link, structure, and all, as an html
document. For projects that I'm working on I often do this as a first step towards creation of a
document that I want to share with others. The document might be a blog or a conventional status
report for work. For the home remodel, I'm using these html documents to maintain a special
home remodel web site where friends and family can go to see how things are going.
To summarize, there are two key things about the Planner that I especially like. First, I don't need
to place all my trust in some special database with its own special demands for maintenance and
organization. The Planner is just a document-like overlay to my file system. Second, I stay
focused on my project, its planning, and the tasks that need to be done. The Planner organizes
my information along the way.
>>: How come when you were sending a document to your folder hierarchy it didn't predict which
folder it needed to go into based on the hierarchy in the Planner? You still had to go in and
choose the folder.
>> William Jones: Hmm, I don't remember that. I can show you in real life how it works. Here's
what I was doing today for the talk, and here is the talk, and there it is. And we have, so basically
if I create a document here, the in-context [phonetic] create would be, well I don't have Internet
connectivity so I can't send you an e-mail right now. But I can get out old e-mails, but I can also
create a document, for example, notes from the talk. I can make this a Word document. I can also
make it a--a new thing we have is it can also be a one-note section. And, so, let's see, although->>: So in this case a [phonetic] [inaudible] gets off [phonetic] the folder? [inaudible].
>> William Jones: Yes. No, it's not a folder, well that's a document there. I created, I always have
this naming convention [phonetic] for me that whenever I'm doing anything like a dialogue
[phonetic], when I'm writing a paper or a presentation, I have food for thought--food for the
presentation. It's just notes that I take for myself.
>>: So the folder in this case is the [inaudible]?
>> William Jones: Well, I should explain that. So basically the--what you saw that Microsoft
presentation, presentation for Microsoft, that was--that looked like a heading, and it was, it's
actually also a folder. So our vision of this would be if we had the right hooks we wanted to just
sort of hook into Windows Explorer, but they don't have the right interfaces for us to do that. So, I
mean, there things like iShellView [phonetic] and iShellFolder [phonetic] but they basically let you
sort of create your very own name space and plug it in there. You can't provide other modes of
So here it is, notes for today. And any questions? We can add the questions here. I can get back
to you, you know. Anyway, to get back to your, I don't know, I'm not sure.
>>: It seems [phonetic] now it will, it will know the folder->> William Jones: It happens instantaneously, I mean, it happens right away. So, for example,
here's the--I'll get out of this.
>>: I know if you do a Save As right now, to this document->> William Jones: Huh?
>>: If you do Save As to this document, right now, will it know exactly where it lives in the folder
>> William Jones: It should. I haven't ever tried this. Well, in this case it doesn't, but I don't know
why that is.
>>: Yeah. I figured that's what you necker [phonetic] it to do.
>> William Jones: Yeah. But let's go back to Word, for example. I had a Word thing, food for
thought. So it's--if we go down here, well you know what, I need to--
>>: I didn't mean to sidetrack you.
>> William Jones: No, that's okay. I just realized that I didn't ever actually plug in my power, so
I'm getting low on power. But let me just before we do that, so, let's see, we have the folder view
of this. Here's the Microsoft talk. I don't have any--I have food for talk up here--and that's, so that
is this file. And now if I want to--this is a pretty flat structure, but one thing that's kind of nice about
the document model. Well one thing that's nice about it is I have the ability to do something we
call in-place expansion. I can make a folder shortcut to something else, anywhere. That's not
local. This is the MIT talk that I did recently, that I based this talk on. So I can do an in-place
expansion and basically see the contents of that folder here. So I think that's pretty nice--it's very
handy. Let me just--so I don't get these battery messages. I thought I'd already done that, but in
the midst of everything else I forgot to.
So anyway, I can make another folder. Making a folder is as simple as just basically just hitting
return. So aftermath--I'll just say aftermath. Okay. So that's a folder, okay? And I can make notes
in here or I can have a little question that I--and I can make a document in here, so I'll make a
Word document this time. I could send an e-mail message, too, if we can connection--if we had
connectivity--which I don't. So there's questions. Why did you do this?
And so there's some other interesting things that I'll show you while we still have time, but let me
just first of all demonstrate that this is actually a folder, under now Microsoft talk has aftermath,
and under aftermath is questions--questions I get back to this way, and I also get back to it this
way. It's the same thing.
So I wanted to show you one thing that I think is especially interesting about our newest release.
By the way, this is available up on the Web. If you search for Keeping Found Things Found on
the Web you'll find our site is one of the first choices up there. And if you go to--what is it--Planner
prototype, or what's the tab?
>>: [inaudible] 7.2.
>> William Jones: 7.2. [inaudible] just 7.1, yeah. You can download it for free. And just a small
registration. So one thing I'll just show you--I use the Planner all the time. I use it every day and
so I have, for example, I have a mini-book that I'm working on, even as I'm working on the talk
today, and like all of us I switch back and forth between different projects all the time. So I'll have
food for the mini-book that I'm writing, you know, so now I'm working on that, and then later I'll
probably go back to the Microsoft talk. In a typical day, I might say oh yeah, that was a good
thought or maybe I'll decide, maybe I'll have a little block of time to work on it, and so I'm back at
food for the Microsoft talk.
So what we allow you to do is two things. One thing is, if I'm here I can also go and push
something else in there. I can push, like, I can push an e-mail message in here, for example.
Let's pretend--I hate to show my personal e-mail, but I could, huh, this is our--I found out that one
of our releases didn't support ICC temporarily. So I could push this in there, for example. And I
hope this will work. So that's just with a hot key combination I can make a connection back
to--there it is. So now I've just sort of pushed stuff out there.
So the model there is that I've got a lot of web pages or e-mail messages; I just want to push it
into the project, okay. And voila, I can go back to the project. I say voila, there it is. So that's one
thing. And then in the other direction I may be on an object that I've been working on in the
context of a project and want to get back to that quickly. So here I'm back, you know, I'm thinking,
my thoughts are now back to the lecture again, and I want to go back to that quickly. There I am.
I'm back there at Morgan Claypool, and I'm back basically back to the note that references that
And two-click access means that I can also click everything else around here, so I can click on
other things related to this project as well. So here's an e-mail message that I think I thought was
related to the project. And there it is. So it's two-click access. One click from an information item
that--a document, or a web page, or an e-mail message that I've already related to a project--I've
clicked to jump back to the Planner, and then I click again to go out to other things that are
related. And related how? Well, they're nearby. That's a sense of place. They're nearby.
So another example here would be, now I'm back at the Microsoft talk again, well actually that's
food for the MIT talk--I wonder what happens if I do that. Nothing, because it's not open. Anyway,
so let's go back to the Microsoft talk. I think I'm not pressing, oh, I'm not pressing the right
buttons. That's what's wrong.
Here I am at the Microsoft--now I want to go back to the project for Microsoft--there I am. Okay.
Yeah, sorry, I was not pressing the right, I was pressing Control+O instead of Windows+O to get
back to it.
>>: Do you have a way of relating this thing widely [phonetic] into multiple projects?
>> William Jones: Yeah, that can be done. Now, right now, because we're sort of a limited
resource team, we only have three developers working on it part-time, including Eric who's in the
back of the room, we say you go back to the thing you last, was most recently exposed.
>>: Right.
>> William Jones: Okay. So if a note, if we have, these are notes, we call them notes, these
lines, and as you saw in the video you can also switch over to a draft view as well. Eventually
we'll support other views, I suppose. But these are notes, and so you have notes, and I can type
in, and I have food for talk at Microsoft, but I could also say ideas for talk, you know, it's just text
editing, and in the same way I can create folders. I don't have to do a right click, new folder, folder
name. I can just simply type in, you know, I can just simply type in next project. Whatever.
>>: And so that creates a new folder and then you can put documents under the history
>> William Jones: That's right.
>>: Can that work in reverse? Can you drag items into the folders that have been created and
have that reappear in your Planner document?
>> William Jones: Yeah, yeah, we have synchronization with the file system. We do have that.
And so, yeah, I can show that to you if you like, but we do have that.
>>: Could you speak for a moment about the flag icons that I see [inaudible]?
>> William Jones: Yeah, you bet. So let's take the Microsoft talk today. We have, you click on
that and you flag as a task to do, okay. And we'll say a start date, I think that's a little bit late to be
starting on it, since the talk is today, well this is the eleventh, isn't it? I thought it was the ninth,
okay. Well it's definitely due today. I'll just forget about start. I can add a heading shortcut to
today. Today is a special kind of project--probably that has to wait for another time. But I can add
that as a heading shortcut to today, and I can also add calendar reminder in Outlook. I can also
add a task in Outlook, but what we find when we talk to people is a lot of people don't use
tasks--they just informally, if they want something done they just create an appointment, so I'm
just going to leave it as this. There we go. There's a flag, and if I look under today, there's the
Microsoft talk, it's basically, and I can do in-place expansion if I want to see it there, okay.
I really like the ability to collapse, though, to collapse all that detail, oh, I'm at a convocation this
afternoon. You can see that I'm actually using this, I'm not just, so here's the information about
the graduation gown, or whatever the regalia they call it, for the convocation, you know. I got my
doctorate from Carnegie Mellon so I have the tartan colors. And this is important information on
where to take it back so they don't charge you a thousand dollars.
So that's, and I'll show you the calendar, it's also, it should also be in the calendar, and there it is,
Microsoft talk. It's an all day event. But don't worry, this talk will end in just a few minutes. All
right, so I wanted to go back to the presentation--any other questions or anything else you want
me to try out with the Planner while you've got it there? Oh, obviously what I can do is flag this as
complete, and that would be in removing the shortcut heading from today, and it adds a note to
the journal that I completed this task.
>>: Is there a reason some of these are links and shortcuts and some of these tend to be filings
[phonetic]? I think it's kind of related to the question you asked earlier. If we have multiple flags
that are being used across that could copy applicator code [phonetic]?
>> William Jones: Well I thought he--yeah--I thought you were more saying in the case where I'm
vectoring back, where do I vector in the case of ambiguity if it's referenced multiple places? Or
maybe that's not->>: You just have to reference->> William Jones: What we do is we basically go back to the place where you last, that was last
exposed. So you can have several different notes pointing to the same file for example, or the
same e-mail message, or the same web page, and we'll go back to the one that you last, that you
most recently exposed. So that's one thing.
Now as far as linking versus having the file right there, what we're doing in the case of, I mean
they're different models of this. If you go to the Web then maybe nothing is local, okay, but as
long as you're on the Desktop things are local--you have to decide where a file is going to go.
And so, we have, so if you're creating a file that goes by default in the folder that is corresponding
with the heading under which you created.
I wanted to show you one thing that wasn't maybe not obvious in the video, but I think it's
incredibly useful. We have the problem, anybody who uses Outlook knows that there's a real
problem with knowing what to do with attachments. Where are they and where is their place? I've
had people I know that, somebody I know sent a personal e-mail to Steve Sinofsky about it and
he said, I know, I know it's a problem. But you can be working on something and it's in a
temporary location, and then you're totally divorced from that later and it says: Do you want to
save this? No, I don't want to save it, and he lost several hours of work because he was working
in it and he hadn't properly closed it.
So we're not used to that, this notion of temporary folders. So what we do is, let me go back to
Microsoft talk again. So what we do is, suppose this is a query, well, this actually is--the talk I
e-mailed it to myself as an attachment, and it detaches the attachment, and it makes it a file
locally. So I can work with it, and I can also do things like I can do new version, so, copy copy, I
can do corrections or whatever, okay, there we go, and I can even e-mail it back to myself as a
response. So that sort of supports a dialogue. Obviously I'm not going to be having it with myself,
but with collaborators on an article I might be e-mailing it back and forth.
I wanted to--I know that we're almost out of time now, so, well you know what--I'll just go back to
the talk. Here it is. I used the Planner to get back to the talk in progress. Okay, so, the slides. So
this is kind of the visualization of it--everything in one place. Objectives: Write down
project-related thoughts just as easily as you would write a document, and so less cost, more
benefit. Get more out of it than just, it's not just a static document, it's a basis for organizing all the
information you need to get it done, okay.
Two design principles: No new organization, no--and I would say, you know, one thing people ask
is well what about OneNote? Well, OneNote is very useful and people love it, but essentially
OneNote is its own organization. It only interfaces with the file system at the level of section
groups and the corresponding of folders. Organize incidentally: Project-related information is
organized as a by-product of a plan's elaboration.
Oh, by the way, with no organization by the way, I wanted to just mention one thing--in some of
our field work we have talked to people who have used like a well-intentioned pen tool, like Info
Select is one of them, used it for a year in one case, and what they realized over time is--and they
were very enthusiastic about it at the outset--and they tried to organized everything that way, but
the problem is it had its own special database. And so what they found is that the database
wasn't doing everything for them that the file system did. And so they were still going back, and
so they were basically doing duplicates of documents, file system and this special-purpose
database, and that over time they realized, after a year they realized, it was taking--it was not
making things more simple--it was complicating things.
One thing is on the side here is I think that one of the sort of unheralded maybe crown jewels of
Microsoft is the file system that people have entrusted so much of their data to. And yet what has
been done? I mean we, I don't know WinFS, is that coming back? You guys tell me. When I was
here it was Cairo, and they were all meant to sort of radically reengineer the file system. But if I
look at the file system it still looks very much like what I might have seen twenty years ago.
So here's a wrap-up to some of the features. We have ordering, grouping, annotation, drag and
link--I didn't really show you that, but I think you get the idea. You can take an object outside an
item we call it and bring it in, and there's a link back. Or you can just grab text, like from an e-mail
message, a summary of, okay, we're meeting at such and such a place for dinner. That's the
outcome, at such and such a time. But by dragging it in you also have source, so you can still go
back and say, you know, why did we decide on that place and why that time? Couldn't people
meet a little bit later than that? And so then you've got the source to understand that.
In-context create you can, the idea is that as you're just working along you can just create items
or create a marker for items to do later. I've shown you several different kinds of information--of
integration--there's different forms of information; that's one of the key things: Web pages, e-mail
messages, documents, integration of planning and organizing so that as you're making headings
and sub-headings representing projects and tasks you're also creating folders. And there's also
integration of the file system, and then that little flag was about integration of task management.
Some earlier evaluations were pretty positive, but I will be honest with you, the earlier evaluations
were very much with sort of a limited-use, guided demo, hands-on demo. And so now we're at the
stage where it's robust enough for people to use on a daily basis, and so we're starting a study
now that'll last for several weeks where people will actually use it on a project in their life and see
how it works for them. I'm interested in comparing that with another project--ongoing project in
their life that--and so we're going to say just do that other project the way you would normally do it
and then.
What we're after is qualitative information, qualitative comparisons really, and some of the ones
that are most noteworthy we're going to drill down on them. And so I presented at Cai [phonetic]
2008 on this and that was promised and done. We did file synchronization and that gets back to
the question you asked about what happens if you do something behind the Planner's back in the
file system, and it does file synchronization. And the file system always wins--just to be clear
about that. And then we did remind by and due by connections; also we have life organizers that I
won't have time to talk about today, two-click quick access I showed you, in-place expansion, and
a number of other features--OneNote integration, several different kinds of navigation, kind of
combining the document world with the web page world.
Next steps--I've mentioned the multi-week evaluation. Part of that is also to do reference tasks, to
sort of test their ability to get back to information later. We've been doing that all along. We've had
a keeping [phonetic] task and a re-finding task. And then on to the Web. Eric and I and others and
the team have been in a discussion. One problem with the Desktop version is that people don't
want another Desktop application, and they're not going to install things on their Desktop
anymore. But if you say it's just a plug-in, oh, that's okay. Or that's what we're betting on. That
may become as saturated as the Desktop is now, but what we want to do is see what can happen
if we move to the Desktop, and then we also want to support Palmtops.
There the idea is have an interface that allows you to integrate with a mechanism with continuous
login throughout the day. I was really struck at the Cai [phonetic] conference when we did the lab
tours. It was actually the Microsoft presentation but it could have been any of them. I saw people
raising their hands during the presentation, but they had their iPhone or some other device. They
were raising their hands to get a better view of the slides so they could take a picture. And so
there's sort of this notion that throughout your day you could be logging what you're doing, and
we want to work on that.
And then group work is another thing that we really want to be able to support with the Planner.
So that's--oh, I should definitely say that there are other related efforts. I think the GroupBar is a
related effort in the sense of being able to place things. The physical act, I mean, physical as
mediated by your tools obviously, moving things and having control over where it is. I put UMEA
because--a question mark--because it's tagging, so I'm not so sure that's about placing things,
and they're more recently void [phonetic] in a session that I chaired at Cai [phonetic] on--I don't
know how you pronounce that--Giornata or something. And it's basically a Desktop way of
bringing together everything related to what they call an activity. And then of course OneNote.
So I think things that are unique to the Planner, relatively unique, maybe unique--in-context
creation. As you're typing along you can create something in context. It's an overlay--it should be
overlay--of the file system. It has a pervasive outline overlay, one continuous view, and I don't
know, I think overall design goals also drive the Planner in a different direction than other tools.
It's not about taking notes, for example. It's about this sort of radical integration based on this idea
of document-like customizability.
So one of the things that I think is very powerful here is that everything is in one view--all my
projects, everything I'm trying to do right now--is sort of accessible. I can go up here and do it, I
can jump back and forth between these different tabs, but essentially I have a sense of direction. I
know that this, you know, this is up and this is down, and if I want to say, oh, now that the talk is
almost done I'm going to move this up, so that gets more of my attention, I can do that easily
enough. Simple ordering.
>>: Does nothing [phonetic] ever go away? Like, if it's out of sight, out of mind, you're done your
talk here and you want to->> William Jones: Well that's a very good question. One of the problems we have, actually, this
is perfect for this. What are the factors affecting success or failure of this or any tool like this? In
another study we sort of extracted a few things that matter. In the near term, visibility and the
ability to integrate with what you've already got. If you don't see it--if you don't see the tool--you're
probably not going to use it.
And then longer term there's return on investment. You can be, the tagging, you can be very
enthused about it, and then over time realize it's just not really giving me what I want even though
the enthusiasm will carry you along for quite a while--maybe a year. And then scalability, and that
is, what about clutter? And we don't have an answer to that yet, to be honest. And the problem is
you don't want to, yes, there is a problem that, I mean, the good news is--here's what I'm doing
on evaluation of the Planner. I can just type in stuff any time I want to. You know, a note to myself
to do something. And I'll do that all the time--I'll just sort of say oh yeah I need to get in touch with
the participants to schedule. I don't need, it doesn't have to be understandable [phonetic].
The problem is those notes don't go away unless I manage them, and that becomes a real pain,
so we're thinking about ways of sort of automatically--I mean, one thing we're kind of thinking of is
things can sort of fall below a fold--that new things can sort of push old things farther down. And
my background is in human memory research at Carnegie Mellon, a long, long time ago, and
that's sort of, kind of has connections to the way human memory works. It's not like things--whole
[phonetic] things go away, they sort of just get pushed down with respect to accessibility.
Okay. So, well, how much time, we have an hour and a half I guess, but you were saying people
usually leave after--anyway, these are the questions for you to think about. What places do you
create? What support would you like to see? And what would it take for you to use a Planner or
some other new and promising tool? Quote. And here's the connections. Feel free to contact me
if you'd like, and thank you.
So I'm happy to stay around with anybody who wants to continue discussing this, but I think,
I--you're still here, so I'm going to keep on talking, but I won't be offended if you leave, okay? So
we are sort of back to these discussion questions. What places do you create in your life and
what support would you like to see that's not there now?
>>: [inaudible] picture [inaudible] because the web sites are as good as emplicacy that type of
[phonetic] [inaudible] but then that little, all those little web links look exactly the same->> William Jones: Right. We don't support that now. I mean, our answer is if you really want
pictures, create a OneNote section in the Planner and put it in there. We just don't have the
bandwidth to do that. But it also raises some issues around--I mean--I think text can sometimes
be your friend; visuals, pictures, can take up a lot of space. And so, I mean, when I see some
demos, for example, of the Tabletop interface that Microsoft has presented, I see that's a lot of
clutter and I don't really know, you know, all of those things don't necessarily cohere in a way. So
I don't think text is necessarily bad as sort of an entry point to the information.
So there are two answers. One is we just don't have the resources now. Over the long run we'd
like to support--if you look at Word, for example, it has a draft view, an outline view, and a print
layout view. The print layout view would be the one where pictures are presented, okay. But then
the longer answer, the more controversial answer, is well maybe that's not such a good thing to
have in every view. And so maybe you just want a text view. Yeah.
>>: I was going to say that the single thing that I really wanted was these multiple views--not just
for that, but for keeping things that I've done gone but not completely gone. Out of sight but not
out of mind, if I need to say, oh, what did I get done this week? I want to be able to pull [phonetic]
out a little folder [phonetic] and say yeah and I don't want to do it with a lot of heavyweight
machinery. I know there's that tradeoff of [inaudible] complexity, that that was I used a tool called
Echo for a while; I'm sure you know about it.
>> William Jones: Yeah. And what was your experience with that?
>>: Umm, for the first year or so I loved it, and yet it was one of these things where Outlook
came out and it wasn't integrate [phonetic] with Outlook, and then [inaudible]. Essentially, it went
the way of history, but I still actually occasionally use it. I still use it when I need to make that list
of what I need to do.
>> William Jones: Yeah. Huh.
>>: And I keep on trying to use OneNote over and over and over again, and all these things take
a real discipline, that I think you need to keep to.
>> William Jones: Yeah. Well that's a good point. It's not just about the tool, it's also about an
associated methodology for using it, or a discipline.
>>: There were things about that Echo that I think I have not seen, and I tried to duplicate->> William Jones: What were some, I'm just curious, what->>: One of the things was you had multiple columns. You could add another column, and in
those other columns you could put any data, and you could sort by any of those columns, you
could hide, filter by any of these columns, and it was a very lightweight, generalized thing, so I
could essentially have a to-do list and when I was done I could hide the thing, but then I had
another view that says what did you get done [inaudible] kept it in a nice outline [inaudible] and
that was very nice. Or I could say who was I doing it with? I could find all the things I was working
[inaudible] on.
>> William Jones: One thing you might be interested in--it's on the map--it is on the outline, you
know about that.
>>: Yeah, yeah.
>> William Jones: Yeah, because they sort of try to combine columns with outline. Yeah.
>>: You had your hand up.
>>: Yeah, I used to use something called In Control, I don't know if you are familiar with it.
>> William Jones: No--In Control?
>>: In Control was really, I thought->> William Jones: What a great name.
>>: That were like Echo, but I thought it to be a lot better. And it was also multi-column
hierarchical. And one thing that was interesting was you could assign sort of color or font sizes
based on the hierarchy, and you could override them if you wanted to, too, and that helped you
sort of call attention to certain things that were sort of important to you. You could have another
column's pointer [phonetic] to a lot of other things, so with that we could sort of accomplish a lot
of these things documents other places [phonetic] without having to have it all in the document.
You could sort of filter and sort new [phonetic] when you put things in so that you could
automatically gauge stuff so everything would be on a certain thing or [phonetic] archived into a
separate file. It had quite a lot of functionality, I think. I really like what you're doing here given the
limits of the file systems.
>> William Jones: Yeah. So yeah, one question is: What, are we all going onto the Web as the
file system, as something we directly interact with going away? Obvious there's a file system
underneath all those web services on the Web but it's not something we work with in any direct
sort of way. What do you guys think about that?
>>: How much do you use the file system after using the Planner?
>> William Jones: Well I used to use the file system a lot, and so, one of the things I'll say there
is that in our own research we sort of find, and not just ours, but other people like Boardman and
Sausa [phonetic] find that to the extent that you invest in an organization--a digital
organization--it's going to be the file system. And that is more true now than it was a few years
ago, I think. Like if you look at what people are doing in Outlook, for example, folders that people
used to--I've talked to several--I mean I don't have like significant data on this, but my sense is
that I've talked to many, many people who say that I used to use folders in Outlook, but I get so
much e-mail that I just don't have the time. Even the mechanics of dragging it and dropping it into
a folder or setting up a filter and maintaining it is just too much, so it's just in the inbox.
Anyway, so that's my sort of aside that that's another reason we picked the file system, and of
those hierarchical stores [phonetic] it's the one that has the richest set of representation. How
often do I use it? I use it all the time instead of the file system. I used to use the file system a lot
and now I use the Planner almost all the time, except that there are still a few things that I need to
do in the file system, and when I do that, the Planner has a feature for that--whoops--I don't know
what I just did. But you can go up here and I can just do an explore, and there it is. I'm right up.
So then the things that I can't do, you know, like, there are just some things that I just can't do.
Anyways, somebody else had their--I think you were next, yeah.
>>: Is there a difference in the way people organize their information like on paper, and old folks,
and on computers, because I find myself using them vastly differently in terms of [inaudible] and
finding information.
>> William Jones: Really? So say more about that. How do you use them vastly differently?
>>: Because paper is just a jumble of stuff that sits on my desk, and I can still find it very easily
because it's a visual association that [phonetic] I don't think about [inaudible].
>> William Jones: Okay.
>>: But in a computer it's incredibly hard to find information even if I put it in things [phonetic] like
find out [phonetic] where I've taken the conscious effort to put it into [inaudible].
>> William Jones: You still find it's difficult to get back to it again later?
>>: Yeah.
>>: The Desktop is 2D and your desk is 3D; you've got like layers and->>: You also have all that texture, right in the middle of it, like, oh, this is a photo so it's not going
to look like a piece of paper, which whereas on this file system your list looks the same
regardless of what it is. You have a little icon to cue you in but you don't have the->> William Jones: Yeah.
>>: You can't [phonetic] really guide you [phonetic] you know, ten thousand documents
>>: Related to that, have you done a meta poetry [phonetic] search on more dimensional
contextual memory? Because, you know, you're a brain guy too, you know, the part of the brain
that recognizes what something is, is stored in a different part of [inaudible] where something is?
I was thinking as you have more sort of different kinds of sensory feedback that helps form this
fabric of the context of where you're storing something. I think that's especially true in the physical
>> William Jones: Yeah.
>>: If you did more of those other kinds of things in the digital world maybe you could enhance
the retention.
>> William Jones: I think that's a good point. That relates to this general notion of incidental
memory. Things just get--the traces get laid--in the course of your doing things, without you doing
anything explicit. And so Mary what do you know about that? I think there is some work that has
been done on whether if you sort of assign files a color, for example, or an icon, are people more
likely just to sort of happen to remember it later by that even if they didn't make the assignment.
>> Mary Czerwinski: Yeah, they're doing a lot of studies on, you know, using cues and
landmarks, and snip-its of windows to help you remember what it is as opposed to a thumbnail
and things like that.
>> William Jones: But one thought here is that if you just--one thought is, of course, you could
select an icon and you could select a color, and other things, but most of us wouldn't take the
trouble to do that. So the question is, if that were sort of there, gratuitously, would you attend to it,
and my guess is yes, it probably would be grist for the mill later when you're trying to get, I mean,
if the system could use it you would probably, it might very well lodge in your mind. I don't
remember, but it was sort of a, you know, it was about this big, it was this color, and it had this
shape to it, you know, those are things that->>: [inaudible] that versus text versus audio. We're so visual.
>> William Jones: I think it's--for me--I'll tell you one thing that I didn't expect. You know, I do use
the Planner all the time, and one thing I do it for is just window management, and I never would
have expected that, but I manage it when I have, I mean, I am guilty of having lots of windows
open, and so I manage it just as a way to get back to a particular window, that even while that
stuff is already open. Because I don't want to go through the, if I, I'm waiting for 7 on our
computers in the iSchool and I'm waiting to try out that GroupBar-like ability to move things
around. That may change things, but, you know. Any other comments or thoughts? Yeah.
>>: Just sort of a [inaudible] question. I was just curious on how you organized the development
of this project, was this codeplex [phonetic] or open source, or through the university students
doing the development, or->> William Jones: Yeah, we do. Eric, you could say a little bit more about that, maybe. Not to put
you on the spot->> Eric Sheng Bi: [inaudible] between this we're not likely [phonetic] [inaudible] which is a
mixer, we just try to [phonetic] express our ideology and ideas. [Inaudible] we're not sure if there
is an open source [inaudible] we hope everybody can use [inaudible].
>> William Jones: Yeah. It takes a commitment of resources to really make it properly open
source, so we're not quite there yet, but it is our intention to do that. And we have things like we
use Track for bug-tracking; we don't use Bugzilla, but we use Track, and we have one on our
team that's really a proponent of Agile development, so he wants us to move in that direction.
>>: Are you keeping any meta [phonetic] data about the [inaudible] items in the Planner not, or
the ability to manipulate that meta [phonetic] data? The reason why I was saying that is one of the
things I like in the application I was using is that you could explicitly put dates in or know implicitly
when did you put things in. Typically if I was doing, say, the [inaudible] dates, a lot of times you
can't sort of visualize date items, but what you could do is you could filter within [inaudible]
clusters and then blow it out into a calendar or onto a timeline so sort of get a special sense of all
these tasks that you have.
>> William Jones: That's a very good--very timely--question for us, because we are doing that.
We're logging information and the intent is not that it is, I mean, it's a potential benefit to us as
we're monitoring what people are doing, but the intention is that, ultimately it is a benefit to the
user, too. It gets back to this question: If you can build it when you come back, consistently, over
time, repeatedly. I can say that for me, I do. But then I don't count. So we also have the example,
you know, I do, I will say honestly that some people it's taken a while before they use it. I think
Eric uses it now much more than when he initially started with the project, and I don't think it was
because I was haranguing you to use it.
It takes--what we have now is this--we have events in the Planner, and they have associated
times, and a location in the Planner, like they're basically folders, unc [phonetic] paths. And so we
have the ability to later on to go back, already, and say how much time did I spend yesterday on
the Microsoft talk? We have that ability. Well what we do is export it as a tab-separated values
that can be read into Excel to do the processing right now. But that's a big direction to go in. It's a
big direction to go in. Once you have a log, a comprehensive log, you can use it in all sorts of
different ways, and so that's the direction that we're going in.
>>: But the beauty of it is you already know what the tasks are because they're organized there->> William Jones: Well that's it. Yeah. So it's not, it's, and again this goes back to this notion that
implicit tagging, that I don't have any conscious thought of tagging my event, of opening this
ideas for Microsoft, with Microsoft talk. But it's there--obviously it's there redundantly here
because I've used it in the title, but it's also there implicitly because I accessed it from here, and
so that's effectively a kind of tagging.
The other thing you saw in the demo is I can also, this gets back to something in the same line as
the status tracker that you're--I can open this if I want to, I can just focus and bring it into its own
window. And then from there I can Save As an html document, for example, and then I can read
that into, so you know, I can save it, brings it up as a, right now I'm bringing it up as a web page,
but I could also obviously read it into Word, and if I do read it into Word, the structure is
preserved. So what ever I had is preserved as headings and sub-headings in Word. So that
means that I'm well on my way to writing a project report. Now I'll clean up all this mess, of
course. But each of those things is a reminder of me in some ways of something that I did, that I
might otherwise have forgotten about.
Any other questions or comments, or--yeah? If anybody, please contact me if you have any, if
you want to use it, or you look like you're interested--I'd love to hear your feedback on it later,
>>: This is all about planning [inaudible]. The thing that bothers me the most is most of the
things we do nowadays tend to be unplanned phonetic [phonetic].
>> William Jones: Yeah.
>>: There's too much stimulus that comes into our life. So I just wonder what side phonetic
[phonetic] of an information organization that's phonetic [phonetic] where you need to kind of
handle this constant--it's like e-mail--you just mentioned in e-mail how folders are kind of like
unusable at this point, and almost everything else we're starting to do. Like for example
[inaudible] stream-based->> William Jones: [inaudible] yeah. And this gets back to also what Mary and her team have
done on the constant task interruptions and your evidence suggests people even do
>> Mary Czerwinski: Oh yeah. Self-stimulation is what we call it.
>> William Jones: I was working on the talk earlier today, I was adding some slides, and I just
went to e-mail for diversion. These days I might go to Twitter or Facebook just for the diversion.
And yes, that's the direction, that's why we're really into this idea of logging as an ongoing
activity, but we don't think that planning goes away, but planning is sort of, you could sort of say
that you have your stand up moments during the day when you have your iPhone or your
Blackberry or your windows, whatever, and that's stand up. Then you have sit down, which is
more amenable to planning, at the end or the beginning of a day. So I think they're both->> Mary Czerwinski: [inaudible] let ourselves wander so much.
>> William Jones: I mean, I don't know if I made that clear with one thing about plans is that you
can sort of say, I'm sending an e-mail message in the context of this plan, and again because I
don't have connectivity I can't actually do it now, but here's--I'm sending that e-mail message and
yeah, I want to know what the responses are to that, but only when I'm back in this context. So I
get to decide when I'm going to attend to that, okay. And that's an important thing, you know, you
choose, I think the planning as supported by something like this enables you to be a lot less
reactive and much more proactive about what you're doing.
>>: Maybe some form of indication in the planning area--each of the areas, you know, what's the
most current activity?
>> William Jones: Yeah. That would be very interesting. Well that's again, that's something we,
now we do have this thing called Today that's a little bit like that but it's very crude at this point,
but yeah. So, I mean, sort of an inspiration for that, by the way, was Outlook, but I bet even in this
room a lot of you don't know about this feature. How many people know about this sort of Day at
a Glance feature in Outlook?
>>: I do but I don't use it.
>> William Jones: This is the one I'm talking about.
>> Mary Czerwinski: I think we're going to wrap up here because I don't know how long they're
going to tape this->> William Jones: Okay.
>> Mary Czerwinski: Let's thank William again for his great discussion phonetic [phonetic]
applause [phonetic].
>>: William Jones: Thank you. I really appreciated the comments and the questions.