Associative corporate memory for resource discovery and reuse

In the PAL Bar project we are exploring the utility of contextual and proactive information access techniques for state-of-the-art knowledge management and resource discovery.

PAL Bar, a key component of our Corporate Memory system, is a toolbar that runs within web browsers and email clients (currently Internet Explorer, FireFox and Outlook). It uses a web-service-based Information Retrieval framework to analyse the user’s current context, e.g. the currently displayed web page or email message, and provides proactive access to closely related contacts and documents. In its current instantiation at FXPAL, PAL Bar provides the following features:

  • Contextual access to corporate visitors (using information from FXPAL’s Video Guestbook)
  • Contextual access to corporate documents (internal reports, inventions and publications)
  • Contextual access to personal contacts and documents (e.g. bookmarks or any personally relevant document)

In short, PAL Bar is an associative corporate memory that supports proactive resource discovery and reuse, connecting users to relevant documents and people based on contextual information.

Technical Contact

Related Publications

Publication Details
  • The 15th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW2006)
  • May 23, 2006


In a landmark article, over a half century ago, Vannevar Bush envisioned a "Memory Extender" device he dubbed the "memex". Bush's ideas anticipated and inspired numerous breakthroughs, including hypertext, the Internet, the World Wide Web, and Wikipedia. However, despite these triumphs, the memex has still not lived up to its potential in corporate settings. One reason is that corporate users often don't have sufficient time or incentives to contribute to a corporate memory or to explore others' contributions. At FXPAL, we are investigating ways to automatically create and retrieve useful corporate memories without any added burden on anyone. In this paper we discuss how ProjectorBox a smart appliance for automatic presentation capture and PAL Bar a system for proactively retrieving contextually relevant corporate memories have enabled us to integrate content from a variety of sources to create a cohesive multimedia corporate memory for our organization.

Improving Proactive Information Systems

Publication Details
  • International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI 2005)
  • Jan 9, 2005


Proactive contextual information systems help people locate information by automatically suggesting potentially relevant resources based on their current tasks or interests. Such systems are becoming increasingly popular, but designing user interfaces that effectively communicate recommended information is a challenge: the interface must be unobtrusive, yet communicate enough information at the right time to provide value to the user. In this paper we describe our experience with the FXPAL Bar, a proactive information system designed to provide contextual access to corporate and personal resources. In particular, we present three features designed to communicate proactive recommendations more effectively: translucent recommendation windows increase the user's awareness of particularly highly-ranked recommendations, query term highlighting communicates the relationship between a recommended document and the user's current context, and a novel recommendation digest function allows users to return to the most relevant previously recommended resources. We present empirical evidence supporting our design decisions and relate lessons learned for other designers of contextual recommendation systems.

Contextual Contact Retrieval

Publication Details
  • International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI 2004)
  • Jan 13, 2004


People routinely rely on physical and electronic systems to remind themselves of details regarding personal and organizational contacts. These systems include rolodexes, directories and contact databases. In order to access details regarding contacts, users must typically shift their attention from tasks they are performing to the contact system itself in order to manually look-up contacts. This paper presents an approach for automatically retrieving contacts based on users' current context. Results are presented to users in a manner that does not disrupt their tasks, but which allows them to access contact details with a single interaction. The approach promotes the discovery of new contacts that users may not have found otherwise and supports serendipity.