Yahoo! Award Supports Development of Online Collaboration Tool

Project seeks to understand motivations and methods for people working in collaboration for information seeking tasks

Chirag Shah

Chirag Shah, assistant professor of Library and Information Science at SC&I, has been awarded a Yahoo! Campus Innovation Award of $20,000 to further develop “Coagmento,” an online tool that promises to enhance collaboration by focusing on not only the results of shared work, but also the processes.

Shah’s tool and his related research seeks to optimize collaborative activities whether planning a family vacation, working on a scholarly article, organizing a wedding, or hiring just the right person for an empty position. The ultimate goal is to create a model for integrated collaborative environments (ICE) that allow people to share how they find knowledge and solve problems.

“ICE, primarily using mobile devices, will also provide ways to do ad hoc collaboration, whereby multiple individuals with the same goal could collaborate based on their spatial location … even if they are not on a social network,” Shah said in his proposal to Yahoo! “Imagine participants of a convention in a new town looking for a place to eat, or avid gamers in a game store. ICE could connect them based on their geolocation and common interest.”

The key difference between his proposal and previous online collaborative tools, Shah says, is that Coagmento allows users to share the web pages and other resources they have sought out, the search terms they used to find information, and the browsing they did to get to those answers. This approach enables members of a group to understand others’ motivations, methods, and expectations within a certain project.

While designed to promote and support collaborative work, Coagmento is an equally valuable tool for individuals working on projects that span multiple sessions.

Shah hopes to cross boundaries between fields like information retrieval, human-computer interation, and social media. Coagmento is a prototype but will also provide a rich data set from users’ web browsers that will inform further collaborative information seeking research. You can join Coagmento at www.coagmento.org and also download a free mobile app in the Android Market.

 
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