SearchTogether and CoSearch: New Tools for Enabling Collaborative Web Search

Mira Dontcheva   Merrie Morris, Microsoft Research

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University November 7, 2008

Today, Web search is a solitary experience. All major Web browsers and search engine sites are designed to support a single user, working alone. However, collaboration on information-seeking tasks is actually quite commonplace! For example, students work together to complete homework assignments, friends seek information about entertainment opportunities, family members jointly plan vacation travel, and colleagues jointly conduct research for their projects.

In this talk I'll discuss the findings of our surveys and interviews that reveal the challenges users face when attempting to collaborate on Web search using status quo technologies. Then, I will present two systems, SearchTogether and CoSearch, that address these challenges. SearchTogether is an augmented Web browser that enables collaboration among groups of remote users via integrated chat, group query histories, automatic division of labor, visitation awareness, comments, ratings, and shared summaries. CoSearch is a system that enables collaboration among groups of co-located users by enabling users' mobile phones to augment a shared computer, then using a browser with special queuing areas to manage query and URL requests sent from the supplementary devices.

Meredith Ringel Morris is a researcher in the Adaptive Systems and Interaction Group at Microsoft Research. She is also an affiliate assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington.  Merrie's main research areas are human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work. Her current research focus is on developing and evaluating systems that support collaborative Web search. She earned her SB in computer science from Brown University and her MS and PhD in computer science from Stanford University, where her dissertation introduced interaction techniques for supporting cooperative work around tabletop displays.

View this talk on line at CS547 on Stanford OnLine or using this video link.

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