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The Web as a Personal Archive

In recent years the Web has evolved substantially, transforming from a place where we primarily find information to a place where we also leave, share and keep it. This presents a fresh set of challenges for the management of personal information, which include how to underpin greater awareness and more control over digital belongings and other personally meaningful content that is hosted online.

The following are reference images we used in a recent study exploring this transformation [See: Rethinking the Web as a Personal Archive]. We were interested in understanding the value of personal online content, and the kinds of objects and views that people might be interested in collecting or creation about themselves with it. The following sketches were deliberately low-fidelity options for study participants to discuss.

Collections Of Everything

The first three are simple views of what the big collection of stuff that the person has collected might look like.




Views/Filters onto everything

These are a number of different ways of viewing or sub-dividing all the stuff that the person has collected.

A timeline view

Where the items originated from

Who owns/owned the content

What kind of media the items are

Whether the items are shared or not


Creating things

These are shots of examples of things that a person might make or craft with their digital collection of items. Most of these would remain digital and interactive. Some might be printed.

A digital diary, with data and social networking activity from the day pasted in.

A digital photo album, with maps, Tweets and Likes.

A digital scrapbook (so more of a focus on aesthetics), with a map embedded.

A printed card made from the scrapbook page above.

A digital resume, with a timeline of employment and other live elements embedded.

A digital scrapbook about the XBox game Modern Warfare 3, with an avatar and gamercard embedded.

  • Siân Lindley, Catherine C. Marshall, Richard Banks, Abigail Sellen, and Tim Regan, Rethinking the web as a personal archive, in Proceedings of the 2013 international conference on World Wide Web (WWW 2013), International World Wide Web Conference, May 2013.