Hoarding and Minimalism: Tendencies in Digital Data Preservation

Francesco Vitale
Francesco Vitale
Izabelle Janzen
Izabelle Janzen

CHI, pp. 1-12, 2018.

Cited by: 11|Bibtex|Views40|Links
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Keywords:
individual differencesminimalismmobile applicationnew worlddata preservationMore(11+)
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We have shown how participants approached digital data preservation driven by a spectrum of underlying tendencies with two extremes: hoarding and minimalism

Abstract:

Digital data, from texts to files and mobile applications, has become a pervasive component of our society. With seemingly unlimited storage in the cloud at their disposal, how do people approach data preservation, deciding what to keep and discard? We interviewed 23 participants with diverse backgrounds, asking them about their perceived...More

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Introduction
  • Economists argue that digital data has become the most valuable resource of the 21st century [41].
  • Cloud platforms are one of the solutions that leading technology companies have proposed to deal with the increasing amount of data.
  • These platforms often cause confusion [30] and raise privacy concerns [19, 44], but they offer seemingly unlimited storage that requires little maintenance on the user.
  • As storage gets cheaper and digital data more of a commodity, how do users deal with this new environment?
Highlights
  • Economists argue that digital data has become the most valuable resource of the 21st century [41]
  • While we expected to focus on low-level values people refer to, we found that participants approached data preservation driven by a range of underlying tendencies, living on a spectrum with two recognizable extremes: hoarding and minimalism
  • Contextualizing information Similar to what Vertesi et al [44] found, participants considered a variety of data sources: computers, smartphones, tablets, wearable devices, online platforms, and mobile applications
  • We have shown how participants approached digital data preservation driven by a spectrum of underlying tendencies with two extremes: hoarding and minimalism
  • The contribution and value of our work lies in: 1) bringing to light a spectrum of tendencies with hoarding and minimalism on two ends, characterizing them in depth, 2) comparing and contrasting different user behaviours, showing their common role for identity construction, 3) putting them in context compared to previously reported behaviors in the literature
Methods
  • METHODOLOGY Participants

    The authors interviewed 23 participants (16 females, 7 males) in Vancouver, Canada.
Results
  • The authors present contextualizing information about the data that participants discussed in the interviews.
  • Contextualizing information Similar to what Vertesi et al [44] found, participants considered a variety of data sources: computers, smartphones, tablets, wearable devices, online platforms, and mobile applications.
  • They talked about files, text conversations, pictures, videos, bookmarks, logs, profile settings.
  • The authors are not the first to report these values [9] but the authors elaborate later on the important role of data as a memento in relation to hoarding
Conclusion
  • Variation and nuance within individuals In introducing a spectrum of tendencies, questions about their nature arise.
  • The contribution and value of the work lies in: 1) bringing to light a spectrum of tendencies with hoarding and minimalism on two ends, characterizing them in depth, 2) comparing and contrasting different user behaviours, showing their common role for identity construction, 3) putting them in context compared to previously reported behaviors in the literature
  • These findings move forward the understanding of how people preserve digital data, a generally under-unexplored topic.
  • That the authors are in the foothills of a new world where seductive cloud storage is pervasive, it is critical to understand what drives people’s behaviors so that the authors can shape this world in a way that promotes informed decisions and well-being
Summary
  • Introduction:

    Economists argue that digital data has become the most valuable resource of the 21st century [41].
  • Cloud platforms are one of the solutions that leading technology companies have proposed to deal with the increasing amount of data.
  • These platforms often cause confusion [30] and raise privacy concerns [19, 44], but they offer seemingly unlimited storage that requires little maintenance on the user.
  • As storage gets cheaper and digital data more of a commodity, how do users deal with this new environment?
  • Methods:

    METHODOLOGY Participants

    The authors interviewed 23 participants (16 females, 7 males) in Vancouver, Canada.
  • Results:

    The authors present contextualizing information about the data that participants discussed in the interviews.
  • Contextualizing information Similar to what Vertesi et al [44] found, participants considered a variety of data sources: computers, smartphones, tablets, wearable devices, online platforms, and mobile applications.
  • They talked about files, text conversations, pictures, videos, bookmarks, logs, profile settings.
  • The authors are not the first to report these values [9] but the authors elaborate later on the important role of data as a memento in relation to hoarding
  • Conclusion:

    Variation and nuance within individuals In introducing a spectrum of tendencies, questions about their nature arise.
  • The contribution and value of the work lies in: 1) bringing to light a spectrum of tendencies with hoarding and minimalism on two ends, characterizing them in depth, 2) comparing and contrasting different user behaviours, showing their common role for identity construction, 3) putting them in context compared to previously reported behaviors in the literature
  • These findings move forward the understanding of how people preserve digital data, a generally under-unexplored topic.
  • That the authors are in the foothills of a new world where seductive cloud storage is pervasive, it is critical to understand what drives people’s behaviors so that the authors can shape this world in a way that promotes informed decisions and well-being
Related work
  • Framing preservation in the context of data management We use the expression data preservation to indicate subset of what is commonly thought of as data management, as others have done before [21, 25]. Challenging traditional views on information management, Whittaker [47] argues that users experience an information curation cycle. He describes three different stages or broad activities that people engage in during curation: keeping (deciding what to keep or discard), managing (actually organizing what has been kept using folders or other structures), and exploiting (searching for, finding, and using what has been kept). Our investigation of data preservation focuses on keeping and discarding data.

    To further contextualize data management, we refer to Vertesi et al [44], who give an excellent overview of what management entails today. They show that digital data includes many types and lives in ecosystems with multiple devices and relationships, with online platforms being more and more prominent. People face a tension between sharing and safeguarding data from others. They make decisions based on moral convictions about what they think is the “right way” to manage data. In essence, this is the moral economy of data management, the framework we adopt as a backdrop for our analysis. We build upon Vertesi et al.’s work and borrow their general approach, although with a specific focus on preservation.
Funding
  • This work was supported by the grant NSERC RGPIN-2017-04549 “Highly personalized user interfaces.”
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