What does it mean to collaborate while searching?
There are many different ways to characterize collaborative information seeking, many dimensions on which collaborative search systems can be categorized.
For the past few years Jeremy Pickens and I have been thinking that our model of collaborative exploratory search needs some further explication. Or maybe we’re just trying to understand it better ourselves. We have found that to explain what our model is, we have to simultaneously explain what our model is not. This has led to numerous discussions not only about the various dimensions of collaboration, but also about the relative importance among those dimensions for distinguishing between systems.
We talked about some of these characterizations in our HCIR’07 paper, where we described two dimensions: synchrony and intent. We extended this discussion in our JCDL 2008 workshop position paper, where we introduced depth of mediation and location. But we found there still remained some confusion about the exact nature of these dimensions, particularly with respect to synchrony.
Our plan is to come up with a few blog posts that explain the dimensions in more detail, and to engage with our readers (we assume we have readers) to work out the kinks in the model and in our exposition.
Briefly, the current version of the model consists of the following dimensions: intent represents the degree to which people share an explicitly-articulated information need. Synchrony describes how influence flows among collaborators. Depth of mediation is the extent to which the contributions of different people are taken into consideration when performing search results. Finally, location describes whether searchers are co-located or distributed.
In the following weeks we’ll discuss these dimensions in more detail, and will update this post to point to these upcoming discussions.