I have been seeing the news and videos for the past couple of days. So far not very impressed. It looks like a part FB and part Skype with a few of the Google things integrated (like Google Alert, which they call "Spark" in this). It's no FB killer and Google is calling it "project", which means it's way behind even a "beta". They are being careful this time and introduce things in small doses as compared to what they did with Google Wave.
Empathy is one of the most important aspects of seeking information in online social networks or communities. One example that I like giving to explain this point is someone "asking" a question - "It's my birthday today and I'm all by myself". He/she got a lot of responses with people empathizing with the asker. This wasn't really a question-answer interaction, but we see such questions and answers quite often. This is something that an expert-based Q&A (virtual referencing, Google Answers, etc.) can't do.
Traditional search infrastructures generate results by employing algorithms that match queried key words to records ranked based on criteria imposed by the algorithm. In essence, this method is completely systems-oriented in the sense that what you, the user, perceives as meaningful when information seeking may not align with the programmatic criteria deigned for information retrieval. Yet sometimes you'll accept the returned information anyway, even if it's not what you were looking for.
This website is devoted to research and discussion related to Social/community Information Seeking. Broadly, this includes information seeking, retrieval, and sharing in participatory online social sites, such as Yahoo! Answers, AnswerBag, and WikiAnswers. Highly related topics involve traditional and digital referencing services, information retrieval and extraction, and knowledge representation.
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