Question-asking on online social networks is an increasingly common method of information seeking, used as an alternative to search engines in cases where users seek subjective opinions or require trusted answers personalized to their tastes. In this talk, I will give an overview of users’ motivations for choosing whether to satisfy an information need via a social networking site versus a more traditional keyword search. I then propose a new information-seeking paradigm, socially embedded search engines, which bring many of the benefits of traditional search engines into the context of online social networks. I will discuss the design and deployment of two prototype socially embedded search engines: SearchBuddies, which augments Facebook exchanges with algorithmically-generated answers, and MSR Answers, which responds to Twitter questions with crowdsourced replies.
Meredith Ringel Morris is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research. She is also an Affiliate Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering and in the Information School at the University of Washington. Dr. Morris’s research area is human-computer interaction, with a particular emphasis on computer-supported cooperative work and social computing. She recently co-authored the book Collaborative Web Search: Who, What, Where, When, and Why? (Morgan & Claypool, 2010).Technology Review recognized Dr. Morris’s pioneering work on collaborative information seeking by naming her one of 2008’s “35 innovators under 35.” Dr. Morris earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in computer science from Stanford University, and an Sc.B. in computer science from Brown University. More information, including her full list of publications, can be found on her website.