Microsoft's aims to make research more social

Microsoft are not building the next Facebook. from Microsoft FUSE labs intends to use social search for the purpose of learning and collaborating. is an interesting experiment developed at Microsoft's FUSE labs., announced yesterday, is a social-search project.

Pronounced "social", is an experimental research project focused on social search for the purpose of learning. People can find and share interesting web pages, assemble montages of rich content, and collaborate using rich media sharing.

Microsoft has been testing the project with students at selected schools in the U.S.

It is primarily intended for learning communities, but anyone will be able to log in using Facebook to collaborate and participate.

Sharing by default

All searches are shared publicly by default. Students often search for the same things, so these shared links can amplify popular shared content. The Bing public API automatically shares content as users search for and display research data.

Users can choose to make their data private or choose which part of their social activities to hide from the public view.

(Source: Microsoft)

Shared videos form 'video parties' that can be viewed with a group of friends. Groups can chat with their friends online. aims to work with students to extend their educational experience and rethink how they learn. Students are encouraged to: "reimagine how social software and the way people are sharing and exchanging information shapes the world", says Lili Cheng, general manager of FUSE Labs.

"Students can experiment with their own ideas about a social network", says Cheng.

New collaboration and sharing innovation?

Shelly Farnham, a FUSE lab researcher working on, said: "there is a shift in emphasis toward improving collaboration and connecting with other people around common interests."

It seems to be quite an interesting experiment. Encouraging people to ‘think outside of the existing collaboration and productivity boxes’ might work. It might even create a completely new model for social sharing both inside and outside of the firewall.

Collaboration tools have evolved relatively slowly, seemingly in one direction only. Perhaps collective data sharing such as this might allow completely new ideas and methods to develop. These ideas could improve workforce productivity and facilitate new ways of collaborating.

Groups of people getting together, exchanging ideas and sharing topics might develop into something innovative. The idea for the next new Facebook, Microsoft Office or Lotus Notes might just be around the corner. After all, software is created by collaboration, brainstorming, and knowledge sharing.

Now there’s a thought…