Web search is often viewed as a solitary task; however, there are many situations in which groups of people gather around a single computer to jointly search for information online. We present the findings of interviews with teachers, librarians, and developing world researchers that provide details about users’ collaborative search habits in shared-computer settings, revealing several limitations of this practice. We then introduce CoSearch, a system we developed to improve the experience of co-located collaborative Web search by leveraging readily available devices such as mobile phones and extra mice. Finally, we present an evaluation comparing CoSearch to status quo collaboration approaches, and show that CoSearch enabled distributed control and division of labor, thus reducing the frustrations associated with shared-computer searches, while still preserving the positive aspects of communication and collaboration associated with joint computer use.

Our CHI 2008 paper: [ pdf ]

Our CHI 2008 video: [ .mov (30MB) ]

Amershi, S. and Morris, M.R. CoSearch: A System for Co-located Collaborative Web Search. Proceedings of ACM CHI 2008.