It's not that important: Demoting personal information of low subjective importance using grayarea

Ofer Bergmant, Simon Tucker, Ruth Beyth-Marom, Edward Cutrell, Steve Whittaker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Users find it hard to delete unimportant personal information which often results in cluttered workspaces. We present a full design cycle for GrayArea, a novel interface that allows users to demote unimportant files by dragging them to a gray area at the bottom of their file folders. Demotion is an intermediate option between keeping and deleting. It combines the advantages of deletion (unimportant files don't compete for attention) and keeping (files are retrieved in their folder context). We developed the GrayArea working prototype using thorough iterative design. We evaluated it by asking 96 participants to 'clean' two folders with, and without. GrayArea. Using GrayArea reduced folder clutter by 13%. Further, 81% of participants found it easier to demote than delete files, and most indicated they would use GrayArea if provided in their operating systems. The results provide strong evidence for the demotion principle suggested by the user-subjective approach.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2009
Subtitle of host publicationDigital Life New World - Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2009
Event27th International Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2009 - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: 4 Apr 20099 Apr 2009

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Conference27th International Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2009
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBoston, MA


  • Demotion
  • Files
  • Personal information management
  • Subjective importance
  • User-subjective

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