Chapter 9

Social Search

The opinion of this little circle… outweighs that of a thousand outsiders.

— C. S. Lewis

Search often appears personal, introspective, and private—an activity of the individual in isolation. Yet a 2008 survey found that 97.1 percent of respondents had engaged in at least one form of collaborative search (Morris, 2008). The survey established that users frequently work together on the process of search, which could be as simple as watching over someone’s shoulder and making suggestions for other query terms to try, as well as share the products of their efforts—emailing links to newly discovered web pages, for instance.

Such collaborative behavior often flies under the banner of “social search.” Yet the term seems to mean ...

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