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How do people organize their desks? (01 Jun 1982)
In this paper, I describe a series of case studies of how professional and clerical office workers organize the information in their desks and offices. Then I discuss a number of implications of these results for designing natural and convenient office information systems. Two principal claims are made: (1) A very important function of desk organization is to remind the user of things to do, not just to help the user find desired information. Failing to support this function can seriously impair the usefulness of electronic office systems, and explicitly facilitating it can provide an important advantage for automated office systems over their non-automated predecessors. (2) The cognitive difficulty of categorizing information is an important factor in explaining how people organize their desks. Computer-based systems can help with this difficulty by: (a) doing as much automatic classification as possible (e.g., based on access dates), and by (b) including untitled 'piles' of information arranged by physical location as well as explicitly titled and logically arranged 'files'.
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