In the future we will have digital records of everything we do, everywhere we go, and everything we feel. How will this change our lives? What will be the effects on our everyday memory and experiences? In various projects I have designed and evaluated new digital tools like MemoryLane and FM Radio for creating compelling digital mementos that allow us to record and reminisce. I am also interested in how systematic access to past events and our reactions to those events might promote emotional reflection. Ellen Isaacs, Artie Konrad and I have developed a personal microblogging Android/iphone app Echo that allows you to record and reflect on past experiences. We have shown that this improves people’s well-being. Here is the Echo project website. Corina Sas and I recently looked at digital forgetting in the context of relationship breakup - what people do with photos, videos and social network data about prior relationships when they want to forget. Victoria Hollis has developed technology that encourages people to consider their future emotions to help people change undesirable habits such as smoking or overeating. With Aaron Springer, Victoria and I have now developed an emotion forecasting app Emotical that uses past data to predict future moods, recommending possible activities to enhance mood.


Digital Memory, Reflection and Behavior Change


Community Insights


Personal Information Management (PIM)

We all spend a great deal of our time collecting personal information. Yet tools to help us manage personal digital data are rudimentary. Ofer Bergman and I studied how we organise and access our emails, personal photos and personal files, finding that we are still very dependent on manual techniques for organisation and access. Email is an exception to this rule: we recently found that using folders to access email is highly inefficient compared with online search. We are now exploring the neurological bases of PIM finding that navigation for personal documents triggers the same neurological pathways as physical search. We are also researching how people organise information when they want to share it using tools like Drive and Dropbox, finding that people are less good at finding information that is organized by others. Charlotte Massey is now looking at the relations between PIM and personality. By looking at how you organize your files we can tell whether you have an Conscientious or even Neurotic personality.


Designing Tools for Collaboration

With social computing we now have a plethora of social tools like wikis, blogs, shared file systems and social tagging systems to help work collaboration. And yet there are serious problems in having groups adopt these tools. Tara Matthews and I have developed a taxonomy of collaboration types and a new design method Collaboration Personas for designing collaboration tools, that captures critical aspects of different team working styles. We are also working on Community Insights a tool that helps leaders manage their communities online. Jeff Warshaw and I are looking at the effects of physical separation on online interaction, and Ryan Compton and I are looking at how online communities evolve over time in particular how they organize ever growing amounts of data. I am also studying videoconferencing, exploring how very young children understand and use Skype.

Students: if you are interested please email me!! Read the relevant papers and let me know a specific area that you are interested in. Here is how to apply.

One huge problem we all experience is distraction and lack of focus when using computers. It’s so easy to think that we are working hard when we are really taking too many time-outs to check facebook, IM or email. Vaiva Kalnikaite and I designed an app MeTIme that helps people focus by displaying how they have spent their last 30 mins (eg 15 mins in facebook). We are now testing whether knowing this helps people to focus better.

Focus and Multitasking