The CuDe Framework: Designing Digital Souvenirs for Meaningful Remembering Experiences.

Supervisor: Prof. Geraldine Fitzpatrick

External reviewers:

Prof. Daniela Petrelli

Dr. Paul Marshall



Snapping a photo now is quick and convenient, but how many of these photos are ever revisited again and how many photos can later serve as valuable digital souvenirs? The aim of this research is to explore opportunities for employing digitally captured media content (e.g., photos, text, GPS locations, etc.) as resources for meaningful remembering. This notion of 'meaningful remembering' is defined here as enabling ‘subtle’ experiences such as moments of reminiscence and reflection. Using a mixture of design-led research and (mostly) qualitative user studies, the work explored novel approaches to capturing digital information, often involving photographs and often featuring playful or unconventional aspects. The primary facilitator of such experiences is the modern mobile phone with its affordances for capturing (multi)media data. We developed a series of prototypes and ‘augmented memory systems’, which we deployed in field studies. Each prototype varied the application of media data capture or replay and hence the handling of memory retrieval cues. Thus, these artifacts can be seen as part of an iterative process of exploring opportunities for engaging the user with past events by offering different ways in which digital content can be captured, reviewed and related to each other. The three most advanced prototype systems created in the course of the thesis were named Hearsay, 2sidez and Media Object (MEO). Hearsay explored the ‘out-of-context’ presentation of digital content, that is, the user was presented with memory retrieval cues, which invited them to reflect about the (contextual) origin of this information. While the 2sidez prototype or application was for capturing ‘two-sided photos’ (by means of mobile devices that feature two opposite-facing cameras), MEO provided the user with the opportunity to capture rich multimedia data and aggregate it into a single file structure. A mixture of in-depth (longer-term) and larger-scale studies suggested that these applications indeed were appreciated by the participants for the original way in which they made use of the digitally captured information and for their potential in providing valuable memory retrieval cues. The findings of the user studies are synthesized into the CuDe Framework (Memory Cue Design Framework) for supporting the designers of augmented memory systems in analysing, understanding and exploiting digital memory retrieval cues. More precisely, this conceptual framework provides guidance in making choices about the kind of user experience to be addressed, about what to capture and about how to present this captured information. In summary, the outcome of this research is a set of prototype systems or applications (Hearsay, 2sidez, Media Object and a set of technology probes) and derived design principles (synthesized into CuDe) that can be employed to design for evocative memory triggers and meaningful remembering experiences.
Read More: PhD Thesis (2010-2014)

From the 2sidez web application:

2sidez: What would it be like if photos had 2 sides?

2sidez comprises both this website [note: this website is no longer available] and an application for Android phones that lets you explore 2-sided smart phone photography online and offline.

The 2sidez smart phone app for Android devices lets you capture pictures with front and rear camera simultaneously. It gives you the opportunity to frame memories and moments in an unprecedented way. Frame your pictures simultaneously and share them instantly! The Android application captures what we call 'duographs' (duo + photograph).These are photos that have figuratively two sides - one framed by the front facing camera and the other one by the back camera.

The 2sidez website is where this new kind of photos gets posted. You can find two exemplary duographs below and many more in the recent posts section. We invite you to create your own duographs and share them with your friends on You can also share your duographs via Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.

Please download the Android app and sign up. - It is that simple! 2sidez is also a photography-experiment to find out what it would be like if photos had two sides - your photos will help us understand this!

Read More: 2sidez and Duography (2010-2014)

From the abstract of the paper referenced below:

The multimedia capabilities of mobile phones offer great potential for people to record experiences as digital resources for memories. However, there are a number of challenges around such systems relating to information overload and the effort to create order, the invisibility of digital resources, and supporting creativity and the (re)constructive nature of memory. In this article we report on the media object (MEO), a design concept for a new file format and associated research prototypes, for advancing an understanding of how people wish to record experiences with mobile phones. The MEO concept defines a container structure that invites the user to populate it with rich media. We report on field evaluations featuring 10 participants using MEO applications up to 28 weeks and reflect on the lessons learnt with the media object by referring to the identified challenges. The findings point to issues around creative or deliberate engagement in planning and capturing resources for memories, the cost of doing so and the rewards for those efforts.

Read More: Media Object (A.K.A. MEO; 2011-2013)

From the abstract of the paper linked below:

While much effort in interactive system design is centered on the recognition and representation of precise contextual information, where ambiguity or missing information is considered disruptive, other work has sought to play with notions of contextual ambiguity as deliberate design strategies. In this paper, we build on the latter idea by intentionally removing contextual cues to explore the concept of de- and re-contextualization (de+re) for creating thought-provoking experiences through ‘contextual puzzles’. In particular, we introduce the interactive installation Hearsay, which presents readers’ comments (i.e., texts) on online news stories (i.e., context) as decontextualized items of information to be interpreted by the user. Our study suggests that this activity of recontextualization or “putting the puzzle back into place” captured the participants’ attention and engaged them in deep considerations of the presented information. Drawing on these findings and on further examples from the literature, we propose the princal of de+re as a Strong Concept in interaction design.

Read More: Hearsay/De+re (Interactive Installation; 2011)


ForgetMeNot is a Desktop screensaver implemented in C/C++ for Ubuntu Linux. This application randomly chooses pictures from a selected folder and displays them with various degrees of blurring on the user’s screen during idle time. The images are replaced after a couple of seconds. The aim of the application is to provide the observer with memory cues to encourage them to proactively remember an event. Cues are given by the degree of de-blurring of the image and the degree of blurring is inversely related to time passed.

The main concept behind ForgetMeNot is that the degree of distortion is modeled as a function of time in the same fashion as Ebbinghaus' model for human memory retention. This model describes how the content of human memory fades away over time.

In ForgetMeNot, the model also determines the degree of distortion of the images, the rationale being that when images are fresh in memory fewer cues are needed. Hence, a freshly shot picture will be shown in a very blurry fashion. The more time passes by the clearer the images get. Hence, as images in our mind fade away and become cloudy, ForgetMeNot will reveal more and more details as retrieval cues in the randomly displayed images (noticeable over weeks). The application will therefore help compensate for loss of memory by off-loading to the clearer photos. It also provides an element of serendipity and surprise in its random selection.

Read More: ForgetMeNot and EyeOfDetail (2010)