Collaborative Exploratory Search

Explicit support for collaboration is becoming increasingly important for certain kinds of collection-building activities in digital libraries. We can represent collaboration in search on two dimensions synchrony and intent. Asynchronous collaboration means that people are not working on the same problem simultaneously; implicit collaboration occurs when the system uses information from others use of the system to inform new searches, but does not guarantee consistency of search goals. In this research project, we are concerned with the top-left quadrant of Figure 1 that represents small groups of people working toward a common goal at the same time. These synchronous, explicit collaborations could occur amongst remotely situated users, each with their own computers, or amongst a co-located group sharing devices; these spatial configurations add yet another dimension to be considered when designing collaborative search systems.

SynchronousCOLLABORATIVE
EXPLORATORY SEARCH
REAL-TIME AWARENESS
AND CONTINUAL CONTEXT UPDATE
CONTEXT SYSTEMS
(E.g., Nokia, Imity)
AsynchronousGROUP ASYNCHRONOUS BROWSINGCOLLABORATIVE FILTERING
SOCIAL SEARCH
WEB 2.0
WISDOM OF CROWDS
 EXPLICITIMPLICIT
Figure 1. Taxonomy of collaborative search

Synchronous, explicit search has some interesting characteristics that distinguish it from other types of interaction shown in Figure 1. There is much more emphasis on interaction, as the system has to not only communicate search results to the user, but also mediate some forms of communication and data sharing among its users. There are new algorithms that need to be invented that use inputs from multiple people to produce search results, and new evaluation metrics need to be invented that reflect the collaborative and interactive nature of the task. Finally, we need to integrate the expertise of library and information science researchers and practitioners by revisiting real-world information seeking situations with an eye for explicit, synchronous collaborative search.

Technical Contacts: Matthew Cooper, Francine Chen

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