Merrie Morris - SearchTogether and CoSearch: New Tools for Enabling Collaborative Web Search

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.