Abstract

Web search engines emerged prior to the dominance of so
cial media. What if we imagined search as integrating with
social media from the ground up? So.cl is a web application
that combines web browsing, search, and social networking
for the purposes of sharing and learning around topics of in
terest. In this paper, we present the results of a deployment
study examining existing learning practices around search
and social networking for students, and how these practices
shifted when participants adopted So.cl. We found prior to
using So.cl that students already heavily employed search
tools and social media for learning. With the use of So.cl,
we found that users engaged in lightweight, fun social shar
ing and learning for informal, personal topics, but not for
more heavyweight collaboration around school or work.
The public nature of So.cl encouraged users to post search
results as much for self expression as for searching, ena
bling serendipitous discovery around interests.

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