Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Organizing the workstation

Enough with file plans and records series. Let's get back to actual users. I'll start with a 2007 article from InformationR and co-authored by an old classmate: Brendan Luyt (http://www.informationr.net/ir/12-2/paper293.html).

The paper explores how people put files on the hard disk of their workstations. The results indicate that people typically use on to three levels of folders and that the top level folders tends to organized by task or project. Browsing folders was more common than searches. Folder names often reflected document type, organizational structure, and the great catch-alls of "misc[ellaneous]" and "temp[orary]."

The literature review describes a 1989 study by Kwasnik that suggest seven dimenions of information organization:


  • situation attributes (source, use, circumstance, access)
  • document attributes (author, topic, form)
  • disposition (discard, keep, postpone)
  • order/scheme (group, separate, arrange)
  • time (continuation, duration, currency)
  • value (importance, interest, confidentiality)
  • cognitive state (don't know, want to remember)


Situation attributes, particularly use, see to be most common.

A mathematical model by Balter (2000) suggest that -- for email -- users should have between four and 20 folders to optimize searching, and that using more than 30 folders is inefficient. It should be noted that this argument applies primarily to active folders and there may be a larger number of infrequently accessed archive folders.

So, we're getting some cohesion with functional records management. Use tasks, particularly at the top levels. Limit the number of folders. Depend on search for granularity. So this gets us to a few other questions: how do we do the analysis of tasks and how to do we deal with the whole subject issue. Tagging?

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