Associate Professor

Associate Prof. Ofer Bergman

Associate Professor
Building 502, room 16
Reception Hours
Upon request

Bio: Ofer Bergman is an Associate Professor at the Information Science Department, Bar-Ilan University. Although Prof. Bergman has only held an academic position since 2010, he has rich research experience. Of his 50 publications, he was the first author of 42. The majority of his journal papers were published in A+ journals, including 6 publications in JASIST and one in Scientific Reports (Nature Publication Group). He had also co-authored a book published by MIT press. He received several grants and awards, including an EU reintegration grant, two Google Faculty Research Awards, and an Israeli Science Foundation grant. He was also invited to talk at Ivy League Universities such as Berkeley, Cornell and Syracuse and top research institutes such as Microsoft Research (Seattle), NII (Tokyo), and MIT Media Lab (Boston). He has successfully supervised 16 Master's students (all Cum Laude), and two Ph.D. students who each completed their thesis in 4 years. His main research interest is in Personal Information Management (PIM).



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.  


Areas of Specialization 

Personal Information Management, Human-Computer Interaction, Information Behavior 



Masters Students

  Esther Sher                                                    2022 Cum Laude

  Diana Gutman                                                2020 Cum Laude

  Ira Kachur                                                       2020 Summa Cum Laude

  Yedidia  Perrodin                                            2020 Summa Cum Laude

  Gidon Tish                                                      2020 Cum Laude

  Maor Perlov                                                    2019 Cum Laude

  Shir Hilel (co-supervision)                               2019 Summa Cum Laude

  Yaron Frishman                                               2017 Summa Cum Laude                                               

  Revital Turgeman                                            2017 Summa Cum Laude

  Adi Cohen-Stein                                              2016 Cum Laude

  Nimrod Yanai                                                   2016 Summa 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


Ph.D. Students

Tamar Israeli                                         2019

Noa Gradovitch                                     2013                     With 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.” 



Melbourne University, Australia (2019).

RMIT, Melbourne Australia (2019).

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).



Files Zoom Panel: Ofer Berman, Bar-Ilan University; Jesse Dinneen, Humboldt University of Berlin; Kyong Eun Oh, Simmons University (June 2022).

Hoarding and Deletion PIM Zoom Panel: Ofer Berman, Bar-Ilan University; Joanna McGrenere British Columbia University; Bahar Sarrafzadeh, Microsoft Research (moderator); Liz Sillence, Northumbria University (May 2022).

All Stars PIM Zoom Panel: Ofer Berman,  Bar-Ilan University (moderator) ; David Karger, Professor of Computer Science at MIT; Gloria Mark, Chancellor’s Professor of Informatics at UC Irvine; Jaime Teevan, Chief Scientist at Microsoft; Steve Whittaker, Distinguished Professor in Human-Computer Interaction at UC Santa Cruz (April 2022).

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).



Participated in20th anniversary of the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit held in Redmond at the Microsoft Conference Center.



Married to Rutu Modan, father of Michal and Hillel.


My main research fields are Personal Information Management (PIM) and shared files. I am also interested in human-computer interaction and information behavior. My main research achievements are: a. Co-authoring the book 'The Science of Managing Our Digital Stuff' with Prof. Steve Whittaker; b. Discovering the neuro-cognitive basis for navigation preference in PIM; and c. Shedding light on retrieval of shared files.

Co-authoring the Book 'The Science of Managing Our Digital Stuff' with Prof. Steve Whittaker (MIT Press)

Personal Information Management (PIM) is an activity in which an individual stores personal information items in order to retrieve them later. PIM can be performed in a physical environment (e.g., an office), using mobile devices (e.g., mobile phones and tablets) or personal computers. With personal computers, information items include documents, e-mail, Web favourites, tasks, and contacts. Despite the fact that PIM is a fundamental aspect of computer-based activity and millions of computer users manage their personal information several times a day, there is surprisingly little research on the subject. However, in recent years, the topic has attracted increasing scientific attention.

For almost two decades, the authors have been conducting pioneering research to shed light on PIM behaviour and system design. We started working separately, but since 2007 have worked mostly together. Altogether, we have published over 40 PIM papers, ten of which are co-authored. We see each of our studies as a piece in a larger puzzle. This book puts these pieces together presenting a bigger picture of PIM. Our main focus is on presenting the picture emerging from our own research. We do not intend to provide an exhaustive review of the entire PIM field.

The theme of this book is that PIM is fundamentally different from other types of information management, and our aim is to provide a scientific foundation for this new field. All three parts of the book address this:

In Part I we argue that the emphasis of modern information theories is misplaced in focusing exclusively on information discovery in public data. Instead we draw attention to the importance of personal data and suggest curation as an alternative model for PIM. We define a three stage model for curation:  Keeping, Management and Exploitation and review existing literature focusing on our own studies regarding each of these stages.

Part II demonstrates that technologies that work well for other information management fields, fail for PIM. We examine the hierarchical folder method that currently dominates PIM and compare it with three proposed alternatives – search everything, tag everything, and group organization. We describe multiple studies showing that these alternative methods that work well on the Web, have little uptake for PIM, with users preferring to manually organize and navigate to personal data. We conclude by presenting research that explains the underlying cognitive and neurological reasons for this strong preference for folder navigation.

This demonstration that PIM is indeed a different sort of game means we need specific PIM principles for building successful systems. In Part III we introduce the user-subjective approach to PIM system design. The user-subjective approach exploits the fact that in PIM the person who organizes the information is the same person who later retrieves it. The approach suggests that PIM systems should exploit subjective (user-dependent) attributes in their design. We propose design principles that exploit subjective attributes and describe concrete designs that implement those principles. Many of these designs have been deployed and positively evaluated, offering support for the utility of the user-subjective approach.

We conclude the book by outlining future challenges for the field of PIM.

Discovering the Neuro-Cognitive Basis for Navigation Preference in PIM (Joint First Author)

With personal computers, there are two main ways to retrieve files: hierarchical navigation and query-based search. In navigation, users move down their digital folder hierarchy until they reach the folder in which the target item is stored. When searching, users first generate a query specifying some property of the target file (e.g., a word it contains), and then select the relevant file when the search engine returns a set of results. Despite advances in search technology, users prefer retrieving files using virtual folder navigation, rather than the more flexible query-based search. Using FMRI, we provided an explanation for this phenomenon by demonstrating that folder navigation results in activation of the same brain structures previously observed during real-world navigation in both animals and humans. In contrast, search activates the Broca’s area, commonly observed in linguistic processing. This may explain the preference for navigation over search: Over millions of years, our brain developed mechanisms that allowed us to navigate in the physical world. The same mechanisms are also used for digital navigation, leaving the language system available for other tasks.

This study was published in Scientific Reports (Nature Publication Group), which has an impact factor of 4.259.

Shedding Light on Retrieval of Shared Files

People who are collaborating can share files in two main ways: performing Group Information Management (GIM) using a common repository or performing Personal Information Management (PIM) by distributing files as email attachments and storing them in personal repositories. There is a trend towards using common repositories with many organizations encouraging workers to use GIM to avoid duplication of files and management. So far, PIM and GIM have been studied by different research communities so their effectiveness for file retrieval has not yet been systematically compared. We compared PIM and GIM in a large scale elicited personal information retrieval study. We asked 275 users to retrieve 860 of their own shared files, testing the effect of sharing method on success and efficiency of retrieval. Participants preferred PIM over GIM. More importantly, PIM retrieval was more successful: participants using GIM failed to find 22% of their files compared with 13% failures using PIM. This may be because active organization aids retrieval: when using personally-created folders, failure percentage was 65% lower than when using default folders (e.g. My Documents), and more than 5 times lower than when using folders created by others for GIM. Theoretical reasons for this are discussed.

In addition, I received two Google Faculty Research Awards with Prof. Steve Whittaker and an individual Israel Science Foundation grant for shared files studies.



Bergman, O. Whittaker, S. (2016). The science of managing our digital stuff. MIT Press.


Bergman, O., Gutman, D. (student), Whittaker, S., (2022).It’s too much for us to handle - The effect of smartphones use on long term retrieval of family photos. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. 

Bergman, O., Whittaker, Tish, G. (student) (2022). Collecting music in the streaming agePersonal and Ubiquitous Computing.

Perlov, M. (student), Bergman, O (2021). Why do pension savers avoid information? Meidaat (in Hebrew).

Bergman, O., Israeli (student), T., & Benn, Y. (2021). Why do some people search for their files much more than others? A preliminary study.  Aslib Journal of Information Management 73(3), pp. 406-418.

Bergman, O., Whittaker, S., Schooler, J. (student) (2021). Out of sight and out of mind: Bookmarks are created but not usedJournal of Librarianship & Information Science 53, 2 pp. 338-348.

Bergman, O., Israeli, T., Whittaker, S. (2020). The scalability of different file sharing methods. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology.

Bergman, O., Israeli, T. Whittaker, S. (2020). Factors hindering shared files retrieval. ASLIB Journal of Information Management 72 (1), pp. 130-147.

Zhitomirsky-Geffet, M., Bergman, O. (2019). Towards a variable network for finding connections between results of thousands of publications in social science. Meidaat (in Hebrew).

Bergman, O., Whittaker, S., Frishman, Y. (student) (2018). Let’s get personal: The little nudge that improves documents retrieval in the cloud. Journal of Documentation 75 (2).

Israeli, T. (student), Bergman, O. (2018). Wait, where is that file? The effect of workload on personal information management. Dvarim 11, 143-157 (in Hebrew).

Bergman, O., Yanai, N. (student) (2018). Personal information retrieval: Smartphones vs. computers, emails vs. files. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 22(40) pp 621–632.

Bergman, O., Whittaker, S. (2018). The cognitive costs of upgrades.  Interacting with Computers 30(1) 46-52.

Benn, Y.*, Bergman, O.*, Glazer, L., Arent P., Wilkinson, I., Varley, R., Whittaker, S. (2005). 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. (2015). 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 1995-2012.

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.

Book Chapters

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., Benn, Y. (2017). A neuro-cognitive explanation for the prevalence of folder navigation and web browsing. In Information Systems and Neuroscience: Gmunden Retreat on NeuroIS 2017, Davis, F., D., Riedl, R., Brocke, J., V., Léger, P., M., Randolph, A., B. (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Information Systems and Organisation (Book Series).

Confrence Papers

Bergman, O., Israeli, T., Whittaker, S., Yanai, N., Amichai-Hamburger, Y. (2020). The effect of personality traits on file retrieval.  iConference 2020.

Bergman, O., Israeli, T. Whittaker, S. (2019). Search is the future? –The young search less for files. Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 56(1), 360-363 [Acceptance rate 47%].

Bergman, O., Tucker, S., Somaya, D. (in press). The effect of demoting near-duplicate pictures. Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology55(1), 755-756 [Acceptance rate 49%]..

Cohen-Stein A. (Student), Bergman, O. (2018).Does computer-supported cooperative work reduce teacher burnout? Proceedings of Chais Conference for Learning Technologies 2018 (pp. 167-174).

Turgeman, R., Bergman, O., Bar-Ilan, J. (2017). Side menus are better than top menus for tablets. Presented at IsraHCI 2017 Conference.

Bergman, O., Gradovitch, N., 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., 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). Fromlearning-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.


Last Updated Date : 26/06/2022