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The life and times of files and information: a study of desktop provenance

TitleThe life and times of files and information: a study of desktop provenance
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsJensen, C., H. Lonsdale, E. Wynn, J. Cao, M. Slater, and T. G. Dietterich
Tertiary AuthorsMynatt, E., D. Schoner, G. Fitzpatrick, S. Hudson, K. Edwards, and T. Rodden
Conference NameProceedings of the 28th international conference on Human factors in computing systems - CHI '10
Date Published04/2010
PublisherACM Press
Conference LocationAtlanta, Georgia
ISBN Number9781605589299

In the field of Human-Computer Interaction, provenance refers to the history and genealogy of a document or file. Provenance helps us to understand the evolution and relationships of files; how and when different versions of a document were created, or how different documents in a collection build on each other through copy-paste events. Though methods for tracking provenance and the subsequent use of this meta-data have been proposed and developed into tools, there have been no studies documenting the types and frequency of provenance events in typical computer use. This is knowledge essential for the design of efficient query methods and information displays. We conducted a longitudinal study of knowledge workers at Intel Corporation tracking provenance events in their computer use. We also interviewed knowledge workers to determine the effectiveness of provenance cues for document recall. Our data shows that provenance relationships are common, and provenance cues aid recall.