Prof. Steve Whittaker

Human Computer Interaction,

University of California at

Santa Cruz,

email: swhittak at ucsc dot edu

Current Projects

Digital Tools to Regulate Emotion and Promote Well-Being

Personal Information Management

Supporting Online Community

Preventing Digital Distraction

Students: if you are interested in working  on these projects see more details here


W16 Grad seminar

University roles

Chair: UCSC Committee on Research,

Area Head for Cognitive Science and Cognitive Psychology.

Office Hours

Fri 12-1.30, in Social Sciences, 311

Media Coverage

!!Daily Mail!: your brain on search

Spark Podcast: digital breakup

Digital Breakup: New Scientist, also

CBS, NBC, Today Show and 100+ other news sources try here:

Wall Street Journal: is it worth organizing your digital stuff?

Financial Times: don’t file email!

New York Times: digital overload

Slashdot discussion of email filing

New Scientist: Time travel in meetings

Yorkshire Post: Digital Memories & Lifelogging

The Economist: Organising desktops

Salon Magazine: Email overload – you need a subscription to read it

Computer World: Social Networking

Computer World: Instant Messaging

Portland Business Journal: Accessing spoken conversations


Awards & Major Roles




Bio: Technology is transforming our everyday lives, how we think, interact and feel. I work at the intersection of Psychology and Computer Science. I study how technology is affecting fundamental aspects of our everyday lives, and use insights from Cognitive and Social Science to design new digital tools to support effective focus, memory, collaboration and to help manage personal information. My past research was funded by the EU, NSF, EPSRC (UK), Google and Microsoft. I currently have an NSF grant to research Technology Mediation for Emotion Regulation, and a Google grant looking at collaborative file sharing. I am Editor of Human Computer Interaction 1 of 2 top HCI journals. Recently I had the huge honour of being awarded a Lifetime Research Achievement Award from SIGCHI, the society of Human Computer Interaction professionals. I am also a Fellow of the Association of Computational Machinery (ACM).

To get a sense of my lab’s research here is a video of a keynote talk I gave at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Toronto. Here too is an oldish video of a talk at Google summarising work on lifelogging and human memory. Here’s another recent interview on KZSC where I talk about Digital Breakup, Technology Mediated Reflection (smartphone apps improve well-being by increased understanding of our emotions), and how our digital possessions reflect our personality. Here’s a link to a recent CV.

Recent projects

Download our free Echo app that supports self reflection to promote well-being:



Video of Echo

Improving mood by technology mediated reflection on prior memories. In Psychology of Well-Being.

Unplugged: Exploring the costs and benefits of constant connection. In Computers in Human Behavior.

Is technology compromising adaptive features of human memory? Long term deployment and evaluation of Echo. In Transactions in Computer Human Interaction.

meTime: an app for improving online focus, In CHI 16

When distance doesnt matter for collaboration, In CSCW 16

Search for digital information relies on different regions of the brain than navigation. In Nature Scientific Reports 2015.

Explanatory Video

Building a successful stress reduction app by adapting challenge and success In CHI 2015.

Changing bad habits by attending to emotions. In CHI 2015.

How does our file organisation reveal our personality? In CHI 2014


How online communities evaluate success. in CHI 2014

What sorts of knowledge help promote effective design? In CHI 2014

How do people agree on how to organise shared files? In CHI 2014

Designing new forms of digital memento based on current uses of photos in the home. In IJHCS.

How online communities curate content using multiple social tools. In CSCW 2014

Retrieval of shared files:How well can we retrieve files from shared tools like Dropbox and Drive?


Echo: a mobile system that helps you remember and record your past to regulate your emotions. In CHI 2013. Best paper nominee

Video of Echo

Video presentation on Echo at the Conference on Computer Human Interaction (CHI 2013)

Video of Community Insights


Massive number of press stories on breakup article here:

Socio-technical Lifelogging: Deriving design principles for a future proof digital past. Human Computer Interaction, 2012

A summary of a 4 year project on digital memorabilia

How real designers use Personas in CHI 2012

Evidence why filing email is a waste of time. In CHI 2011. If you file your email read it and weep!

A new Curation framework for Personal Information Management (PIM). Why the last 15 years focus on search could be misguided. In ARIST.

A critique of Lifelogging (digitally recording every aspect of our lives). In CACM.

Collaboration Personas - a new approach to designing collaborative software. In CHI11.

MemoryLane an application for creating digital mementos In IJHCS

SnapTracks Spatial Ways to View Lifelogs In CHI10

Accessing Auditory Memorabilia using a combination of old and new technology. In CHI10