Seeking is not just searching

I think it’s about time we stop using “seeking” and “searching” interchangeably. This is especially relevant to those working in information retrieval/seeking/behavior fields, and even to those in HCI. But the main reason I’m posting this topic here is to bring attention to those studying collaboration in search and related processes. Let me be very clear. The following phrases are NOT all same: “collaborative search”, “collaborative information retrieval”, “collaborative information seeking”, “collaborative exploratory search”.

I believe information seeking is a part of information behavior, and information retrieval is a part of information seeking. Information retrieval (IR) assumes that there is some information that is out there for the given information need (one may not able to retrieve it, or it may not exist in reality), whereas information seeking doesn’t make that assumption. Personally, I use collaborative information seeking (CIS). See the following publications:

  • Shah, C., and Gonzalez-Ibanez, R. (2011). Evaluating the Synergic Effect of Collaboration in Information Seeking. In Proceedings of ACM SIGIR 2011. Beijing, China. July 24-28, 2011. [PDF]
  • Gonzalez-Ibanez, R., Shah, C., & Cardova, N. R. (2011). Smile! Studying Expressivity of Happiness as a Synergic Factor in Collaborative Information Seeking. Proceedings of American Society of Information Science & Technology (ASIST) Annual Meeting. New Orleans, Lousiana.
  • Shah, C (2010). Collaborative Information Seeking: A Literature Review, in Anne Woodsworth (ed.) Advances in Librarianship (Advances in Librarianship, Volume 32), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.3-33. [DOI]
  • Shah, C, and Marchionini, Gary (2010). Awareness in Collaborative Information Seeking. Journal of American Society of Information Science and Technology (JASIST) 61(10), 1970-1986.
  • Shah, C (2010). Working in Collaboration – What, Why, and How? Proceedings of Collaborative Information Retrieval workshop at CSCW 2010. Savannah, GA: February 7, 2010.
  • Shah, C. Lessons and Challenges for Collaborative Information Seeking (CIS) Systems Developers. In the Proceedings of Collaborative Information Behavior Workshop at GROUP 2009. May 10, 2009. Sanibel Island, Florida. [PDF]
  • Shah, C (2010). Coagmento – A Collaborative Information Seeking, Synthesis and Sense-Making Framework. Integrated demo at CSCW 2010. Savannah, GA: February 6-10, 2010.
  • Shah, C, Marchionini, Gary, and Kelly, Diane. Learning Design Principles for a Collaborative Information Seeking System. In the Proceedings of CHI 2009. April 4-9, 2009. Boston, MA. [PDF]
  • Shah, C. Understanding System Implementation and User Behavior in a Collaborative Information Seeking Environment. In Bulletin of IEEE Technical Committee on Digital Libraries, 4(2), Fall 2008. [Online]

And, of course, there’s my PhD dissertation – “A Framework to Support User-Centered Collaborative Information Seeking” [PDF].

And so here’s a request to those using CIR, CIS, collaborative search, etc. interchangeably – please reconsider.

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