DFG-Project Dare2Del

Research project "Internal and external intentional forgetting – Empirical studies and prototypical realization  of an assistance system for the forgetting of digital information" within the DFG Schwerpunktprogramm "Intentional Forgetting in Organisationen"

Duration: October 2016 – September 2019 (first funding period)
Funding: DFG
Researchers: Prof. Dr. Ute Schmid, Michael Siebers

Joint project with Lehrstuhl für Psychologie im Arbeitsleben, FAU Erlangen (Kyra Göbel, Prof. Dr. Cornelia Niessen)


The increasing digitalization in industry and administration results in long-term storage of ever larger amounts of data. However, large amounts of potentially irrelevant digital objects can hinder efficient work and decisions of individual employees, and negatively affect organizational performance. Human forgetting allows for ignoring irrelevant information and its long-term decay. However, the digital world does not yet exploit these effective mechanisms. In the proposed interdisciplinary project of psychology and computer science, the main goal is to design an assistance system (Dare2Del) which supports employees to manage digital content more effectively. Joint application scenarios are administrative tasks and the support of planning engineers in industrial production. By context-sensitive hiding and permanent deletion of digital objects employees should forget irrelevant information, which, in turn, helps them to focus their attention, avoid interference, and improve their decision making performance.

Knowledge is needed about which situational demands at work help or hinder intentional forgetting of (internal) memory content or (external) digital objects. This question will be addressed in an experience sampling study with administrative staff. In addition, it is investigated to what extent the ability to intentionally forget helps to suppress irrelevant thoughts, and to ignore irrelevant digital objects in daily work. In an experiment, it is investigated whether hiding irrelevant information actually supports forgetting of irrelevant digital objects, with positive consequences for job performance and cognitive load.

Dare2Del is conceptualized as a knowledge-based system based on logical representations, and incorporating different inference and learning mechanisms. The same methods are applied for hiding and deleting. Dare2Del is realized as a generic approach. Exchanging the domain specific knowledge module allows easy adaptation to different application contexts (management of documents in administration or management or quality features in industrial production).

The focus in the first funding period is the understanding and formalization of human forgetting in the context of work and it is considered how an information system can detect relevance of digital objects. In the second application period Dare2Del is to be instantiated and evaluated for specific areas of application.