I attended the second workshop on collaborative information retrieval/seeking at the CSCW 2010 conference in Savannah, GA. The first one was held with JCDL 2008 conference in Pittsburgh. In fact, this is my third workshop on this topic as I also attended the collaborative information behavior workshop the past summer at GROUP 2009 conference. All of these workshops had several similar themes, with some overlapping participants (I realized that I’m the only one who has been to all of them!).
The second CIR/CIS workshop was different than the first one in the sense that we didn’t spent too much time arguing over the definitions. I think that’s a big improvement and shows the maturity of the community. We stayed focus on users, systems, models, and transitions. Some of the interesting themes that emerged as we went through several panels and discussions are as following.
- The issue of control is really important. If a CIS system is bringing many features to the user because of their potential usefulness, it needs to do it seamlessly. People may like the system doing something “smart” for them, but this should be done with transparency. More than those benefits the system could offer, it’s important that the user trusts the system; he needs to feel in control.
- Awareness is another core issue that kept coming up. In one of the spun off groups, we discussed what we need for a shared awareness and how to implement it. We proposed to do it (1) actively, or (2) passively. In the former case, a user pushes certain artifacts (webpages, searches, etc.) actively in the awareness space. In the latter case, the system records pretty much everything without explicit knowledge of the user. A combination of these two can help us dial up/down the amount of awareness and privacy.
- A good way to encourage and begin collaborations is by converting social ties to collaborative ties. The social ties are light-weighted, and many already have such ties due to their involvements in social networks and online communities. We can facilitate such social agents to connect with each other in collaborations when appropriate.