Keeping Found Things Found: The Book

The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management

By, William Jones

Keeping Found Things Found Book Cover

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In an ideal world we have the right information at the right time, in the right place, in the right form, and of sufficient completeness and quality to perform the current activity. Tools and technologies help so that we spend less time with burdensome and error prone actions of information management (such as filing). We then have more time to make creative, intelligent use of the information at hand in order to get things done. The result for us as individuals is better use of our resources of time, money, energy and attention. The results for organizations are better employee productivity and better team work in the near term, and more knowledgeable employees in the long term.

This book provides a comprehensive overview of PIM, which refers to both the practice and the study of the activities people perform in order to acquire, organize, maintain, and retrieve information for everyday use.

Introductory chapters provide an overview of PIM and a sense for its many facets. Next come chapters taking a closer look at essential challenges of PIM including finding, keeping, organizing, maintaining, managing privacy and managing the flow of information. The book also includes chapters on search, email, mobile PIM, web-based support for PIM and other technologies and tools of relevance to PIM.

Read Excerpts from the Chapter of the Month


•   Focuses exclusively on one of the most interesting and challenging problems in today

•   Explores what good and better PIM looks like, and how to measure improved PIM.

•   Presents key problems and challenges in PIM, and most promising approaches in development.


"Keeping Found Things Found is the missing manual for 21st century literacy. We're at the epicenter of a rapidly expanding universe of personal information. Books, music, photos, videos, email, contacts, calendars, wills, bills, records, and receipts: how can we keep our piles and files from spiraling out of control? William Jones has the answer in this important book about finding our memories and organizing our lives. A must-read for designers, developers, librarians, and anyone else who cares about the future of information interaction."

-- Peter Morville, Author of, Ambient Findability, and Information Architecture for the World Wide Web

"Today, software can deliver unprecedented support for managing our ever more copious information. This landmark book provides detailed knowledge of behavior and technology that is essential for effective design and use of these productivity tools."

--Jonathan Grudin, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

"This is an important book. Its theme is powerful and timely. The treatment combines keen observation, practical insight, and broad vision in way seldom seen."

--Clayton Lewis, Professor of Computer Science, University of Colorado


William Jones is a Research Associate Professor in The Information School at the University of Washington where he manages the Keeping Found Things Found project. Dr. Jones co-edited a special issue on PIM for the Communications of the ACM (January, 2006 issue) and has written invited chapters on PIM for ARIST and for the Handbook of Applied Cognition. He has given numerous invited tutorials and organized several workshops on PIM including an invitational workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation and a follow-on workshop in connection with SIGIR 2006 ( Dr. Jones received his Ph.D. from Carnegie-Mellon University for research in human memory and has worked as a program manager at Microsoft, where he was involved in the production of information management features for both Microsoft Office and MSN Search. Dr. Jones holds 5 patents relating to search and PIM.


Book design and chapter spreads by Lisa Liedgren; book illustrations by Elizabeth Boling