This project is code-named Pensieve until we get sued by J. K. Rowling. This project has an intense, personal inspiration from DanCo: he rarely remembers the past, and mostly he remembers bad things. And, although he\'s kept a blog for 11 years specifically to remind him of the past, he rarely looks at it. Then he realized he could write programs to remind him to look at it. Now he gets text messages from his past and he likes it. Pensieve is about generalizing this to other people, other media, and other contexts and adding support for social reminiscing, which interviews with potential participants have convinced us is really important.

You can try it yourself:

  • The Pensieve website can deliver reminders to help you reminisce via email. It can send content you (or friends) have created on Picasa,, flickr, Blogger, or Twitter, as well as a set of interesting non-personalized prompts.
  • The Facebook app will help you remember to look into your past in Facebook, both through photos and status messages.

There are also a number of sub-projects that have spun off from the main Pensieve project:

  • Social aspects of reminiscing
  • Location in reminiscence
  • Reminiscing and culture
Active: (Faculty) Dan Cosley (Phd) Victoria Schwanda Sosik, Elizabeth Murnane, Amit Sharma
Past: (PhD) Phil Adams (Masters) Matt Lepage, Arundhati Bhat, Cloud Chen, Eric Frackleton, Jhansi Maryada, Swati Popuri, Vandana Telikacharla (Undergraduate) Justin Cheng, Kathy Akey, Brian Alson, Jon Baxter, Mark Broomfield, Soyoung Lee, Chethan Sarabu, Niloufar Salehi, Sara Alwaalan (Staff) Sivaroop Tejaswi Peesapati (a.k.a. Tejas), Johnathon Schultz
  1. Sosik, V. S., Cosley, D. (2014). Leveraging social media content to support engagement in positive interventions. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 1-7. [PDF] [Publisher]
  2. Cosley, D., Sosik, V. S., Schultz, J., Peesapati, S. T., Lee, S. (2012). Experiences with designing tools for everyday reminiscing. HCI. 27(2):175-198. [PDF] [Publisher]
  3. Peesapati, S. T., Schwanda, V., Schultz, J., Lepage, M., Jeong, S., Cosley, D. (2010). Pensieve: Supporting Everyday Reminiscence. Proceedings of CHI 2010. [PDF] [Publisher]
  4. Cosley, D., Schwanda, V., Peesapati, S. T., Schultz, J., Baxter, J. (2009). Experiences with a publicly deployed tool for reminiscing. Reminiscence Systems Workshop 2009. [PDF]
  5. Cosley, D., Akey, K., Alson, B., Baxter, J., Broomfield, M., Lee, S., Sarabu, C. (2009). Using Technologies to Support Reminscence. Proceedings of BCS HCI 2009. [PDF]
Social Aspects of Reminiscing

This project is an extension of the Pensieve project looking at people's desire for and use of social features allowing them to share their reminiscing. Some Pensieve users mentioned explicitly that they would like the ability to have this feature, so we have added the ability to share in the currently deployed version of Pensieve. We are also conducting interviews to explore the ways that people use technology for reminiscing and maintaining connections with others to inform the design of more nuanced social reminiscing features.

Active: (Faculty) Dan Cosley (Phd) Amit Sharma, Elizabeth Murnane, Victoria Schwanda Sosik
Past: (Masters) Arundhati Bhat, Swati Popuri, Emily Kraus (Undergraduate) Allen Hoonkyo Lee
  1. Zhao, X., Salehi, N., Naranjit, S., Alwaalan, S., Voida, S., Cosley, D. (2013). The Many Faces of Facebook: Experiencing Social Media as Performance, Exhibition, and Personal Archive. CHI 2013 -- best paper. 1-10. [PDF] [Publisher]
  2. Zhao, X., Sosik, V. S., Cosley, D. (2012). It's Complicated: How Romantic Partners Use Facebook. CHI 2012. 771-780. [PDF] [Publisher]
  3. Sosik, V. S., Zhao, X., Cosley, D. (2012). See Friendship, Sort of: How Conversation and Digital Traces Might Support Reflection on Friendships. CSCW 2012. 1145-1154. [PDF] [Publisher]

This project's goal is to specify the importance of geographical location for designing systems that support reminscence. The vision of this project is to observe how people tag certain geographical locations in their mind and relate those locations to their memories. We also observe whether the visbility of anonymous reflections of other people on a particular location effects the user's reminiscence behavior. We compare the user's reminiscing behavior when prompted with a topic for reminiscence or location to the case where user is not prompted. The results of this study can specify certain design implications to be considered for systems supporting reminiscence.

A recent spin-off, GeoDiaries II, is looking at how we might influence people to post more personal content in social media through showing content and help materials that present examples of the kinds of content we would like them to contribute.

Active: none, completed project
Past: (Faculty) Dan Cosley (PhD) Victoria Schwanda Sosik (Masters) Vandana Telikacharla (Staff) Sivaroop Tejaswi Peesapati (a.k.a. Tejas), Johnathon Schultz, Meethu Malu
  1. Peesapati, S. T., Schwanda, V., Schultz, J., Cosley, D. (2010). Triggering memories with online maps. Proceedings of ASIST 2010. [PDF]
Reminiscing and Culture

This project's goal is to study how people from one culture receive photographs of other cultures. Photographs often have cultural elements hidden in them either in the form of people or things. The initial vision of the project is to study how people relate themselves to photographs of other cultures and how it differs from their perception of photographs of their own culture. We observe whether users find pictures of other cultures important to them in a different context. This will help us in addressing whether we can claim that people reminisce more about their culture than they do about other cultures. The results of this study can also be used in addressing a very broad question 'Does cultural relevence in photographs play a role in reminiscence?'

Active: none, completed project
Past: (Faculty) Dan Cosley (Staff) Sivaroop Tejaswi Peesapati (a.k.a. Tejas), Hao-Chuan Wang
  1. Peesapati, S. T., Wang, H-C., Cosley, D. (2010). Triggering memories with online maps. Proceedings of ACM International Conference on Intercultural Collaboration (ICIC 2010). [PDF] [Publisher]