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Background (Rhizom)

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background research page
Below you can read a summary of our research and look into relevant projects we selected. Please download the PDF to read the entire background-research: Deliverable 2: Background Research PDF paper


The digital revolution mystifies a better access to knowledge. Archival techniques themselves are manageable. The main problem is how we access information. The infrastructure and environment of storage places are eminent in order to find relevant information. Information will only emerge to knowledge when dealing with it. If you can link it to an existing experience you can communicate it. Your personal motivation and interest are key-factors of doing so. We create and collect digital data with a certain implicitness. This behavior is getting more and more ubiquitous: You possibly don‘t know what kind of data you collect and produce. The diversity of devices and the pervasive use in everyday context is leading to „lazy“ forms of data-preservation. This causes an uncontrolled and ungraspable user experience in the context of handling digital data. Most people want to know that they have possible control of their digital belongings. We should possibly know what and from where we got it from. How many copies exist, how many versions, what the originals are and how the personal relevance of this data changed over time? Through our background research we encountered systems, which augmented the successful locating of files by adding news and personal events to a file-browsing-interface. It has been proven that digital-files can be found easier when you are looking for something in a certain time frame while displaying the previously mentioned additional context. A reason for this phenomenon is called the „episodic memory“. Another result of our research is how strong digital content and the use of it are bound to each other. The site „snapshot of Provence“ proves that an atmospheric environment, which generates emotional values, leads to a sustainable and joyful use. File types and software dependencies cause problems in long-term preservation. Files are bound to their software and could get unreadable with the change of technologies. A lot of care is needed in the field of data migration where most of the files losses occur. Since it is so trivial to make copies of digital information. Regarding long-term preservation, desktop searches and common ways of storage solutions won’t be sufficient anymore. There must be novel ways of how one accesses files whereby the individual user has to be taken into account.

Selected projects

Snapshots of Provence picture linked to http://www.snapshotsofprovence.com/ This web application was initiated by Bouches-du-Rône tourism. The website shows the diversity of land and people in an atmospheric way. The visitor can navigate his own way through the site and becomes an explorer. Visual context get enhanced with audio and creates a authentic atmosphere of the French Area Provence.
Milestones in Time: picture who is linked to http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/horvitz/landmark.pdf The value of landmarks in retrieving information from personal stores. This is a paper about a time-centric personal search engine. In a user study, they explore the value of extending a basic time view by adding public landmarks (holidays and important news events) and personal landmarks (photos and important calendar events)
Papers Papers is a native application to manage scientific papers and articles. They compare their application with itunes but it‘s made for PDFs. This application is linked with scientific databases for scientific papers, therefore it is able to gather metadata automatically. See the webcast to get an overview.
Fidg't – Visualise your network picture linked to http://www.fidgt.com/visualize Fidgt is a visualization tool where you can filter and display contents and users of different network services. The program starts up with a minimal setup. You can create new magnets or add users of lastFM or flickr to the board.

Concept refinement based on the background-research

Common systems, which encounter the deluge of data deal insufficiently with the value of its content. Digital items are often hierarchically leveled to one visual equality. We will try to enable individuals to give them a defined space of their valuables. Because people are spreading / storing their personal digital data all over different places for different reasons, the time, the provenance, the target and personal context should be taken into account. How can we gather intrinsic information of specific files? Individuals should be motivated to add information to their valuables and external context should also augment these valuables. A “virtual geography” could be an interesting approach to help the user get an orientation of his personal digital belongings. How can we track files which have been spread all over different storage places? A great challenge is to deal not only with one specific set of data like canonalised formats like PDF but also with different formats and still meet the media specific needs.

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