TaskAmbient: A Study in Personal Task Management Visualization

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Virginia Tech

In personal task management, individual tasks are susceptible to failure at various stages due to failures in prospective memory, information fragmentation, and/or cognitive overload. To alleviate the troubles that occur in personal task management, people use various tools such as notifications and external memory aids, but there is still room for improvement in regards to maintaining distributed cognitive artifacts such as calendars and to-do lists. Improvement in staying abreast of this personal task information as opposed to being alerted of it in individual instances was the topic of exploration in this work.

TaskAmbient is an ambient information display system that was designed to address these problems. TaskAmbient supports retention of individual task knowledge as well as retention of task knowledge in a user's different areas of responsibility. With this tool, I observed usage to verify or deny its ability to support prospective memory and combat the problems associated with information fragmentation and cognitive overload in respect to personal task management.

In this research, studies were conducted to learn about personal task management practices and how TaskAmbient was used. In conducting these studies, I found that TaskAmbient provided value in retaining task information and staying aware of tasks in a user's various areas of responsibility. TaskAmbient showed the extendibility to other domains of personal information management.

Personal Task Management, Prospective Memory, Ambient Displays, Information Fragmentation