It is now common for people to work with a range of computing devices in their daily lives, often using external storage or cloud services to move digital resources between devices and share them with others. In addition, web-based media services and social networking sites are commonly used to not only publish resources but also to manage them and make them accessible on the move. As a result, while the problem of accessing resources from different places has been alleviated, the problem of keeping track of them has been exacerbated.

We are working on solutions to help users keep track of their resources without them having to change their ways of working. Our Memsy tool provides users with a view of their personal information space based on a file history graph which can be used to keep track of the latest known versions and locations of resources. Memsy can be embedded in standard desktop environments and works alongside existing applications. An important feature of Memsy is that it offers a service to help users reconcile different versions of files created before they started using the tool. For example, given an image posted on a social networking site, the service would use specially selected similarity metrics to be able to link it back to the original version of the image stored on a desktop PC.

We have a general interest in designing tools to help users manage their personal information and recently offered students the opportunity to develop advanced information management tools based on the example of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom which is a popular tool for supporting photographer workflow. One group of students developed a tool for managing collections of research papers, while another developed a system for software project management. The outcomes of these projects in terms of innovation and speed of development and innovation suggests that this design-by-example approach is worthy of further investigation.


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