Introduction to Tales of PIM

Personal information management (PIM) refers to both the practice and the study of the activities people perform in order to acquire, organize, maintain, retrieve and use information items such as documents (paper-based and digital), web pages and email messages for everyday use to complete tasks (work-related and not) and fulfill a person’s various roles (as parent, employee, friend, member of community, etc.). One ideal of PIM is that we always have the right information in the right place, in the right form, and of sufficient completeness and quality to meet our current need. Technologies and tools such as personal information managers help us spend less time with time-consuming and error-prone activities of PIM (such as looking for information). We then have more time to make creative, intelligent use of the information at hand in order to get things done or, simply, to enjoy the information itself.

For many people, this ideal seems far away. There are a bewildering number of tools available for managing personal information. But these tools can become a part of the problem leading to information fragmentation. Different devices and applications often come with their separate ways of storing and organizing information.

Tales of PIM is an initiative of the Keeping Found Things Found project at the Information School at the University of Washington aimed at exploring issues related to PIM tools and techniques in the form of a conversation. The purpose of the site is twofold. The first goal is to provide a forum where people can exchange their experiences with PIM work and reflect on those experiences. What are your main PIM-related frustrations? Do you have any PIM practices that are particularly effective? What PIM tools do you use and what are your experiences with them? Have you had any PIM-related breakthroughs? Based on your experience, what are the main problems with the way PIM is currently done? Conversations around such questions should allow all of us to improve our PIM practice and become more mindful of how we manage personal information.

The board’s other objective is to act as a repository of first hand PIM experiences that can be used for research purposes. We envision the Tales as a resource for generation and exploration of research ideas, and as a ready source of vivid accounts illustrative of general PIM principles. And while we cannot guarantee that the experiences found on this board are representative of the PIM experiences in the general population, they can provide a starting point for more systematic explorations.
Terms and Conditions

In the light of the board’s second objective, it is important to understand that the data generated on the Tales of PIM board is open to the academic community and the public at large. We do not guarantee confidentiality of any information contributed to the board. Please do not contribute anything that you do not wish to enter the public domain, including any research or product ideas that you are considering pursuing in the future. Similarly, please do not post any personal experiences that you consider sensitive and do not wish to become public. While we expect any potential research drawing on the information found on this board to be done in an intellectually honest way and to maintain the integrity of the views expressed herein, we do not have any control over the type of work that will result from this material.

Participation on the board requires creation of a user account. While the registration process asks for the user’s name and email address, there is no requirement that true information has to be entered. And while anonymous participation is possible, the expectation is that the participation on the board will be constructive and courteous.

We hope you enjoy reading and contributing your own Tales of PIM!

Access the Tales of PIM board.

If you have question or comments about Tales of PIM, please email to