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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3271

Title: Using hierarchical folders and tags for file management
Authors: Ma, Shanshan
Keywords: Information science;Human-computer interaction;Information storage and retrieval systems
Issue Date: 15-Jun-2010
Abstract: Hierarchical folders have been widely used for managing digital files. A well constructed hierarchical structure can keep files organized. A parent folder can have several subfolders and one subfolder can only reside in one parent folder. Files are stored in folders or subfolders. Files can be found by traversing a given path, going through different levels of folders and subfolders. Folders can be moved, renamed, copied and deleted to serve the needs of the changing working environment. However, previous research has revealed several problems with hierarchical folder structures. One important problem is that users frequently have to turn to desktop search to re-find files. Tagging is the activity of applying users’ own descriptors to digital objects, such as web pages, photos, and documents. Compared with traditional indexing which enforces a controlled vocabulary, tagging systems give users freedom in describing digital resources. We believe that tagging may have the potential to improve information navigation and information organization. This research aimed at exploring the possibility of incorporating tagging into the hierarchical folder structure for file management, especially for the process of file organization and file re-finding. We studied users’ behavior and preference of using three file management structures, a hierarchical folder structure, a tagging structure, and a hybrid structure with both hierarchical folder and tagging functionalities. We found that using tag alone or using folder alone generated similar results in file organization time, in file re-finding time and in answer correctness. Combining folders and tags resulted in longer file organization time but no improvement in file re-finding efficiency. The tagging structure required the least number of mouse clicks in the re-finding process among the three structures. The primary contribution of the study is a comparison of three file management structures for better organizing and re-finding files in the desktop environment. Advantages and disadvantages of each structure were revealed from the study. Users’ preference among the three structures was compared. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used in the research. This work will provide design implications for future file management tools.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3271
Appears in Collections:Drexel Theses and Dissertations

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