How do people manage their digital photographs?

K. Rodden and K. R. Wood. How do people manage their digital photographs? In Proceedings of CHI 2003, Fort Lauredale, Florida, USA, April 5-10 2003. [PDF] [PDF2]


This paper describes a longitudinal research on how people manage their collections of digital photographs. The authors asked 13 subjects to used a prototipe software, named Shoebox, during 6 months to catalogue their pictures. The main features of the software was that of enabling text and voice tagging of the pictures. They found that after 6 months, these features were not used because participants relied efficiently on their memory and on the temporal sequence of the pictures to retrieve them.

The paper contains also an interesting argument in that text -based queries can be still reasonable effective even if spoken material is inaccurately transcribed (Brown et al., 1996).

The paper contains interesting comparison between digital photos and printed photos. Interestingly the study wa conducted in 2003, when digital pictures were still relatively new. The paper reports qualitative findings of how people used digital collections. Interestingly, participants adopted Shoebox archival feature, which organized pictures into Rolls and by their timestamps. However, participants did not increase the number of annotations they made on their individual pictures. They felt this feature was uninteresting because it was not helping them to increase their retrieval efficiency.

The availability of text-based indexing and reitrieval did not provide their participant extra motivation to invest the effort in annotating their pictures.

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