With friends like these... who needs search engines?

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Brynn Evans has been doing some interesting research on looking at how social networks support collaboration over information seeking. She uses two dimensions—search goals and search locations—and looks at how social interactions affect search activities, and discusses the implications that this work has for the design of tools to support information seeking. Slides are available through SlideShare, and a video of the talk is also online.

Brynn Evans' model of collaborative information seekingOne of her results was particularly interesting. Brynn reports that the number of social tactics employed by participants in her study was more predictive of success than the size of the social network, than the amount of knowledge in the social network, or than the user’s background knowledge or interest in the topic. This seems to be a “social” extension to M.J. Bates’ Berrypicking description of information seeking, which describes the range of tactics that searchers used to find information.

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2 Comments

  1. Bates’ strategies were indeed mostly individualistic. Some of this literature on social search is more connected to the ideas of expertise location or finding, and less on ‘search’.

  2. Agreed! But on a meta-level, Bates talks about the effectiveness of shifting tactics. This seems related to the data that Brynn reported.

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