”Tell Me a Story” Issues on the Design of Document Retrieval Systems

  • Daniel Gonçalves
  • Joaquim Jorge
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 3425)


Despite the growing numbers and diversity of electronic documents, the ways in which they are cataloged and retrieved remain largely unchanged. Storing a document requires classifying it, usually into a hierarchic file system. Such classification schemes aren’t easy to use, causing undue cognitive loads. The shortcomings of current approaches are mostly felt when retrieving documents. Indeed, how a document was classified often provides the main clue to its whereabouts. However, place is seldom what is most readily remembered by users. We argue that the use of narratives, whereby users ’tell the story’ of a document, not only in terms of previous interactions with the computer but also relating to a wider ”real world” context, will allow for a more natural and efficient retrieval of documents. In support of this, we describe a study where 60 stories about documents were collected and analyzed. The most common narrative elements were identified (time, storage and purpose), and we gained insights on the elements themselves, discovering several probable transitions. From those results, we extract important guidelines for the design of narrative-based document retrieval interfaces. Those guidelines were then validated with the help of two low-fidelity prototypes designed from experimental data. This paper presents these guidelines whilst discussing their relevance to design issues.


File System Personal Event Information Element Document Retrieval World Event 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Gonçalves
    • 1
  • Joaquim Jorge
    • 1
  1. 1.Computer Science DepartmentInstituto Superior TécnicoLisboaPortugal

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