Dr. Bergman Ofer
* Book Tour: Microsoft Research, Santa Cruz, Berkeley, MIT Media Lab, Cornell Ithaca, Syracuse, Cornell Tech
* Our book The Science of Managing Our Digital Stuff was published by MIT Press
Ph.D.- School of Education, Tel-Aviv University, 2006. Title: The Use of Subjective Attributes in Personal Information Management Systems. Supervisor: Prof. Rafi Nachmias
M.A.- Department of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University, 1997. Rehabilitational Psychology with a Neuropsychological Practicum. Title: The Effect of Control over the Narration's Rate in Reading While Listening Testing Poor and Normal Readers. Supervisor: Prof. Miriam Faust
B.A. (Cum Laude)- Department of Psychology, Hebrew University, 1993.
Practical Software Engineer (Cum Laude)- Department of Computer Science, Ort College,1989.
Areas of Specialization
Human-Computer Interaction, Personal Information Management, Information Behavior
Acadamic Position Held at the University
Senior Lecturer (equivalent to Assistant Professor), Department of Information Science
Previous Academic Position
Post Doctorate at Sheffield University, Information Studies Dept. Sheffield, UK (2007-2009)
Year of graduation
Samira Dahamsha Research proposal submitted
Yaron Frishman Research proposal submitted
Nimrod Yanai 2014 Summa Cum Laude
Revital Turjeman Research proposal accepted
Adi Cohen-Stein 2016 Cum Laude
Noga Dvir 2014 Cum Laude
Edva Lotan 2014 Summa Cum Laude
Noa Falk 2013 Summa Cum Laude
Shlomit Fochs 2013 Summa Cum Laude
Liv Glazer 2013 Summa Cum Laude
Maskit Tene-Rubinstein 2012 Summa Cum Laude
Year of graduation
Noa Gradovitch 2013 Prof. Judit Bar-Ilan
Grants & Awards
2016 Israeli Science Foundation grant (351,000 NIS for a period of three years).
2015 Google Faculty Research Award with Prof. Steve Whittaker ($58,319 for a year).
2012 Google Faculty Research Award with Prof. Steve Whittaker ($56,000 for a year).
2010 EU Marie Currie Reintegration Grant with Prof. Bar-Ilan, Head of Department of Information Science, Bar-Ilan University (€45,000 for a period of three years).
2010 Best Paper Award for the paper 'Catchup: A useful application of time travel in meetings' at the 2010 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. The award is given only to 1% of submitted papers. In addition articles about the paper appeared in New Scientist ("Boring conversation? Let your computer listen for you" and the official blog of Communications of the ACM ("Time travel is now possible").
2009 The article ‘The user-subjective approach to personal information management systems design: evidence and implications’ has won the 'Best JASIST Paper published in 2008’ award. According to the jury, “The paper was considered to be well-argued and documented, effective, intelligible, and potentially useful and applicable.”
INTERNATIONAL INVITED LECTURES
MIT Media Lab, Boston, USA (2017).
Cornell, Ithaca, USA (2017).
Syracuse, USA (2017).
Cornell Tech, New York, USA (2017).
Berkeley, California, USA (2017).
Microsoft Research, Seattle, USA (2017).
UC Santa Cruz, California, USA (2017).
National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo (2012).
Microsoft Research, Cambridge Lab, UK (2008).
Information Studies Department, Sheffield University, UK (2007).
MIT Media Lab, Cambridge Massachusetts, USA (2006).
Human-Computer Interaction Lab, College Park, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA (2006).
The Department of Information Systems, UMBC, Baltimore, Maryland, USA (2006).
The Information School, University of Washington, USA (2005).
Applications of Neuroimaging in Information Science: Challenges and Opportunities. A panel at ASIST 2013. Panelist: Jacek Gwizdka (moderator), Yashar Moshfeghi, Frank E. Pollick, Max Wilson, Ofer Bergman (2013).
Personal Information Management in the Present and Future Perfect: Reports from a Special NSF-Sponsored Workshop. A panel organized by William Jones and Harry Bruce for the ASIST annual conference. Panelists: Marcia J. Bates, Nicholas Belkin, Ofer Bergman, Harry Bruce, William Jones (moderator), Cathy Marshall (2005).
Personal Information Management. Panelists: Nicholas Belkin, Ofer Bergman, Douglas Gage, William Jones (moderator), and David Karger. Information School, University of Washington, Seattle, USA (2005).
Married to Rutu Modan, father of Michal and Hillel.
My main research field is Personal Information Management (PIM). My major achievements are: (a) the development of the user-subjective approach to PIM systems design (b) evaluating search and tags in PIM, and (c) developing a new research method called Elicited Personal Information Retrieval that allowed me to shed light on unexplored PIM territories.
The User-Subjective Approach
The user-subjective approach is the first design approach dedicated specifically to PIM. It suggests that PIM system should take advantage of the fact that in PIM the same person stores and retrieves the information items. It advocates design principles by which PIM systems can systematically use subjective (user-dependent) attributes in order to facilitate future retrieval. I developed the approach in my Ph.D. which was supervised by Prof. Rafi Nachmias and Prof. Ruth Beyth-Marom. Our first theoretical paper about the approach was published in the prestigious JASIST. It followed by an empirical paper that indicated that current PIM systems do not allow for sufficient use of subjective attributes, which is forcing the users to find their own ‘work around’ ways to use these subjective attributes. This publication received the Best JASIST Paper Award in 2009. One of the user-subjective principles suggest that information items of low subjective importance should be demoted so that they would not compete for attention when retrieving other items, but be kept in their original context in case they are needed after all. Two designs were developed and positively evaluated according to this principle: GrayArea which reduces the clutter by allowing users to demote unimportant files and DMTR which demotes unused contacts on mobile phones. A third design which demotes old version of documents was developed and currently being evaluated. More user-subjective design schemes can be found in a book chapter and at the user-subjective website.
Evaluating the Search and Tags in PIM
The traditional PIM method is constantly being criticized for being too rigid: the user need to place the information item in a single folder when there are several possibilities, and then remember the path to that certain folder. It is deeply rooted in PIM literature that improved search engines and tags will replace the old hierarchal method: Search engines allow users to find the information item using any attribute they happen to remember about it and illuminate the need for previous storage, and tags allow the user to classify and retrieve the information item by using several categories instead of just one. However neither one of these options was systematically evaluated for users' preferences. Each of these methods was compared to the hierarchal one in two different papers. Each paper contained two studies to increase validity: a large scale study and a longitudinal one. The different studies also used different software environments to increase generalization.
In the search evaluation paper we found that participants preferred navigation over search and the use of new and improved search engines had no effect on that preference. Participants used search only as a last resort and did not change their storage habits when an improved search engine was available.
In the tags evaluation paper we found that participants prefer to use folders over tags. Even when using tags they made very little use of multiple-classification and used and typically used a single tag per information item, and even in the rare cases when they used multiple-classification for storage they refrained for using several tags for retrieval.
These results indicate that whatever works well on the Web and Web 2.0 may not work well for PIM. We are currently in the process of evaluating automatic classification in PIM.
Elicited Personal Information Retrieval
Elicited Personal Information Retrieval (EPIR) is a research method that combines the advantages of a laboratory experiment (control of some of the variables and measurement of others) with the advantages of naturalistic studies (ecological validity). Before the development of EPIR it was very difficult to measure retrieval of personal information as it occurs throughout the participant’s day. One solution was to give the participants 'artificial' information items only for the experiment. This method can be criticized for not representing real retrieval of personal information where the users are familiar with their own information and its organization. In EPIR, to increase ecological validity, the tester asks participants to retrieve sample information items from their own personal information item collection using their own computers. The retrieval task is elicited by the tester who asks the participant to retrieve one specific information item at a time. This enables the tester to control some of the variables such as the retrieval method (e.g. search vs. navigation). The retrievals are video recorded in order to measure the dependent variables. Dependent variables are typically: failure percentage, percentage of retrievals with misstep/s, and retrieval time. I developed EPIR and used it in several experiments to study the effect of folder structure on file navigation and the effect of OS, presentation & depth on file navigation, retrieval of contacts on mobile phones, to compare the amount of cognitive attention used in navigation vs. search and to compare sharing files using a common repository to sharing files via email. We are currently using EPIR in a neuro-imaging study to find brain activity correlates for navigation and search.
Personal Information Management: Personal Information Management (PIM) is an activity in which an individual stores personal information items in order to retrieve them later. It is a new field of study and I was involved in founding its research community. My PIM research also involves human-computer interaction and information retrieval.
Human-Computer Interaction: Human-computer Interaction (HCI) is the study, planning, design and uses of the interfaces between people and computers. I developed the first design approach dedicated to PIM called the user-subjective approach. Evidence for the approach won the best JASIST paper for 2009, and user-subjective designs were positively evaluated and presented in top HCI journals and conferences.
Information Retrieval: I also developed a method for measuring information retrieval for PIM called Elicited Personal Information Retrieval (EPIR). EPIR combines the advantages of a laboratory experiment (control of some of the variables and measurement of others) with the advantages of naturalistic studies (ecological validity). I used it in several of my studies (e.g. to assess different ways of file sharing).
Bergman, O. Whittaker, S. (2016). The science of managing our digital stuff. MIT Press.
Benn, Y.*, Bergman, O.*, Glazer, L., Arent P., Wilkinson, I., Varley, R., Whittaker, S. (2015). Navigating through digital folders uses the same brain structures as real world navigation. Scientific Reports 5, 14719, Nature Publication Group. *Joint first authors.
Bergman, O., Elyada, O., Dvir, N., Vaitzman, Y., Ben Ami, A. (in press). Spotting the latest version of a file with Old’nGray. Interacting with Computers.
Bergman, O., Whittaker, S., Falk, N. (2014). Shared files: The retrieval perspective. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 65 (10) pp. 1949-1963.
Bergman, O. (2013).Variables for personal information management research. Aslib Proceedings 65(5): pp 464 – 483.
Bergman, O., Gradovitch, N., Bar-Ilan, J., Beyth-Marom, R., (2013). Folder vs. tag preference in personal information management. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 64(10) pp
Bergman, O, Tene-Rubinstein, M., Shalom, J. (2013). The use of attention resources in navigation vs. search. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 17(3): pp 583-590.
Whittaker, S., Kalnikaitė, V., Petrelli, V., Sellen, A., Villar, N., Bergman, O., Clough, P., Brockmeier, J. (2012). Socio-technical lifelogging: Deriving design principles for a future proof digital past. Human-Computer Interaction.
Bergman, O., Komninos, A., Liarokapis, D., & Clarke, J. (2012). "You never call": Demoting unused contacts on mobile phones using DMTR. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 16(6): pp 757-766
Bergman, O., Whittaker, S., Sanderson, M., Nachmias, R., & Ramamoorthy, A. (2010). The effect of folder structure on personal file navigation. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 61(12): pp 2426–2441.
Hardof-Jaffe, S., Hershkovitz, A., Abu-Kishk, H, Bergman, O., & Nachmias, R. (2009). Personal information space organization strategies in learning context. Special Issue of Journal of Digital Information on the Social and Psychological Aspects of Personal Information Management.
Whittaker, S., Bergman, O., & Clough, P. (2009). Easy on that trigger dad: a study of long term family photo retrieval. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 14(1): pp. 31-43.
Bergman, O., Beyth-Marom, R., Nachmias, R., Gradovitch, N., & Whittaker, S. (2008). Improved search engines and navigation preference in personal information management. Special Issue of ACM Transactions on Information Systems on Keeping, Re-finding and Sharing Personal Information 26(4): pp. 1-24.
Bergman, O., Beyth-Marom, R., & Nachmias, R. (2008). The user-subjective approach to personal information management systems design: Evidence and implementations. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 59(2): pp 235-246. Best JASIST Paper Award.
Bergman, O., Beyth-Marom, R., & Nachmias, R. (2003). The user-subjective approach to personal information management systems. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 54(9): pp. 872-878.
Bergman O. (1999). Wait for me! – reader control of narration rate in talking books. Reading Online, The International Reading Association.
Bergman, O., (2012). The user-subjective approach to personal information management – from theory to practice. In Human-Computer Interaction: The Agency Perspective, Zacarias, M., Valente de Oliveira, J. (Eds.), Springer.
Bergman, O., Gradovitch, N. (student), Bar-Ilan, J., Beyth-Marom, R. (2013). Tagging personal information: A contrast between attitudes and behavior. Proceedings of the 2013 ASIST Annual Meeting.
Gradovitch, N. (student), Bergman, O., Bar Ilan, J., Beyth-Marom R. (2012). Tags vs. folders in Gmail – Preliminary findings. Proceedings of Chais Conference for Learning Technologies 2012 (pp. 63-69). Best Student Award Nominee
Bergman, O., Whittaker, S., Sanderson, M., Nachmias, R., & Ramamoorthy, A. (2012). How Do We Find Personal Files?: The Effect of OS, Presentation & Depth on File Navigation. CHI 2012.
Gradovitch, N., Bergman, O., Bar Ilan, J., Beyth-Marom R. (2012) Tags vs. folders in Gmail – Preliminary findings. Chais 2012.
Tucker, S., Bergman, O, Ramamoorthy, A. & Whittaker, S. (2010). Catchup: A useful application of time travel in meetings. Proceeding of 2010 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (pp. 99-102). [Acceptance rate 20%, Best Paper Award 1% of submission.]
Hardof-Jaffe, S., Hershkovitz, A., Abu-Kishk, H., Bergman, O., & Nachmias, R. (2009). How do Students Organize Personal Information Spaces? In Barnes, T., Desmarais, M., Romero, C., & Ventura, S. (Eds.) Educational Data Mining 2009: 2nd International Conference on Educational Data Mining, Proceedings. Cordoba, Spain. July 1-3, 2009. [Acceptance rate 37%.]
Bergman, O., Tucker, S., Beyth-Marom, R., Cutrell, E., & Whittaker, S. (2009). It's not that important: Demoting personal information of low subjective importance using GrayArea. Proceeding of CHI 2009 Conference on Human Factors and Computing Systems (pp. 269-278), Boston, USA. [Acceptance rate 24.5%.]
Bergman, O., Beyth-Marom, R., Nachmias, R., Gradovitch, & N. Whittaker, S. (2008). Type of search engine and personal information retrieval: Windows vs. Linux. Proceeding of Chais Conference for Learning Technologies 2008 (pp. 17-22), Raanana, Israel. (In Hebrew) [Acceptance rate ~50%.]
Bergman, O., Beyth-Marom, R., & Nachmias, R. (2006). The project fragmentation problem in personal information management. Proceeding of CHI 2006 Conference on Human Factors and Computing Systems (pp. 271-274), Montreal, Canada. [Acceptance rate 23%.]
Bergman, O., Beyth-Marom, R., & Nachmias, R. (2006). What is so personal about the personal computer? – Subjective attributes in personal information management. Proceedings of the Chais Conference for Learning Technologies (pp. 109-113). Raanana, Israel. (In Hebrew) [Acceptance rate ~50%.]
Bergman, O., Boardman, R., Gwizdka, J., &, Jones W. (2004). Personal information management. Extended Abstracts of the 2004 Conference on Human Factors and Computing Systems (pp. 1598-1599), Vienna, Austria. [Acceptance rate 16%.]
Bergman, O., Beyth-Marom, R., & Nachmias, R. (2003). The use of subjective attributes in personal information management systems - initial results.Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 40 (pp. 509-510), Long Beach, CA, USA.
Bergman, O., Beyth-Marom, R., & Nachmias, R. (2003). The use of subjective attributes in personal information management systems - pilot results. Adjunct Proc. of HCI International 2003 Extended Abstracts (pp. 151-152), Crete, Greece.
Bergman O., Beyth-Marom R., Hadar D., & Dekel A., (2000). From “learning-by-viewing” to “learning-by-doing”: A video annotation educational technology tool. Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 2000, World Conference on Educational Multimedia Hypermedia & Telecommunications (pp. 1555-1556), Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Dekel A., & Bergman, O. (2000). Synopsus: a personal summary tool for dynamic visual media. CHI '00 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 4-5), Hague, The Netherlands. [Acceptance rate 22%.
Bergman, O. (1994). Reading Tutoring System. Israeli patent 110883.
Daily Mail - Most humans use the same part of the brain as a dog looking for a bone when retrieving computer files The Daily Mail website has more than 100 million unique visitors per month.