The Online Search Party: A Way to Share the Load

OPPORTUNITIES for social networking abound on the Internet, but not when it comes to one standard job: using a browser and search engine to comb the Web for information. That task is still typically done solo, because browser displays and search procedures have traditionally been designed for a single user.

Now tools are being developed by Microsoft and other companies that let people at different computers search as a team, dividing responsibilities and pooling results and recommendations in a shared Web space on the browser display as they plan a family vacation, for instance, or research a medical problem.

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Also in article: SearchTogether, by contrast, actively supports a group search, said Michael Twidale, an associate professor at the graduate school of library and information science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who studies people’s strategies for conducting research jointly.

“SearchTogether addresses a real need,” he said. “People searching for information often want to interact with other people. But most of our information retrieval systems fail to recognize this.”

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