Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 153–169 | Cite as

Family memories in the home: contrasting physical and digital mementos

  • Daniela PetrelliEmail author
  • Steve Whittaker
Original Article


We carried out fieldwork to characterise and compare physical and digital mementos in the home. Physical mementos are highly valued, heterogeneous and support different types of recollection. Contrary to expectations, we found physical mementos are not purely representational, and can involve appropriating common objects and more idiosyncratic forms. In contrast, digital mementos were initially perceived as less valuable, although participants later reconsidered this. Digital mementos were somewhat limited in function and expression, largely involving representational photos and videos, and infrequently accessed. We explain these digital limitations and conclude with design guidelines for digital mementos, including better techniques for accessing and integrating these into everyday life, allowing them to acquire the symbolic associations and lasting value that characterise their physical counterparts.


Autobiographical memory Home technology Mementos Field study 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Information StudiesUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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