Introducing doingPad

The doingPad project (doing is pronounced "doyng") is about looking at ways to better capture (and then find again) all the little bits (and bigger bits) of information that inform our lives - the phone number quickly scribbled down on a post-it, the time of a movie, the address of that web site and the big idea we had while talking with that person we only just met.

Getting these thoughts into a laptop is often a challenge: the percieved cost of entry - openning up a file, typing in text, naming the file, saving it, then remembering where it is - is usually too high to make the capture worth while. Then try to find the file later - perhaps months later. What was it called? what was it about?

early doingPad capture

DoingPad is reconsidering:

  • the way we enter information into the computer to begin with
  • what information can be associated with the info automatically (where was i? what was i doing? who was i with? what is this likely about?)
  • how this new interaction and association can facilitate rediscovering that information

DoingPad is informed by several strands:

  • "information scrap" - how do we interact with, capture and recall the various notes, ideas, bits that in a physical context we'd simply jot down (and forget about?). The info scrap work is lead by Michael Bernstein. Our first pub exploring these questions is a work-in-progress paper for CHI2007: Management of Personal Information Scraps.
  • PLUM - on the architecture side, Max van Kleek has been considering how user modeling (and lighter weight) techniques can be used to help associate extant information in an information system with new information to make it more usable and recoverable. A paper exploring some of these ideas is forthcoming for the User Modeling Conference, 2007.
  • What do computers get in the way of doing? Where might the command line meet with GUI interaction? David Karger has been asking this question in terms of new paradigms for capturing structured data like info scraps. His Haystack brainstorming group has been driving many of the ideas informing the doingPad.
  • What is the paradigm for interacting with the Semantic Web? This is the question that has been driving mc schraefel. What can we learn from (a) resaerchers' interaction with notebooks and (b) Vanevar Bush's Memex as a way to imagine how interacting with the next generation Web may be both more personal and more interconnectable than the current Web. The doingPad may be an embodiment of this new paradigm.

The Players

The main players in doingPad currently are

The Collaboration

This project is the first collaborative research work that is part of the Web Science Research Initiative between MIT and the University of Southampton.

Web Science Research Initiative logo MIT logo Southampton


Initial support for the project has also been provided by the Royal Academy of Engineering (UK) and the EPSRC (UK).

RAE epsrc logo

Main doingPad Project Site

For the latest about doingPad, please see the main doingPad web site at MIT.