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The ubiquitous digital file: A review of file management research

by   Jesse David Dinneen, et al.

Computer users spend time every day interacting with digital files and folders, including downloading, moving, naming, navigating to, searching for, sharing, and deleting them. Such file management has been the focus of many studies across various fields, but has not been explicitly acknowledged nor made the focus of dedicated review. In this article we present the first dedicated review of this topic and its research, synthesizing more than 230 publications from various research domains to establish what is known and what remains to be investigated, particularly by examining the common motivations, methods, and findings evinced by the previously furcate body of work. We find three typical research motivations in the literature reviewed: understanding how and why users store, organize, retrieve, and share files and folders, understanding factors that determine their behavior, and attempting to improve the user experience through novel interfaces and information services. Relevant conceptual frameworks and approaches to designing and testing systems are described, and open research challenges and the significance for other research areas are discussed. We conclude that file management is a ubiquitous, challenging, and relatively unsupported activity that invites and has received attention from several disciplines and has broad importance for topics across information science.


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