Microsoft Introduces Social Search Project

For once, Microsoft isn't going into a crowded field, it's trying to help you find your way around it.

Students have long had their own little network for sharing, ah, information, but Microsoft has a little card up its sleeve for college students looking to find new ways of collaborative learning.The research project is called So.cl, as in "social," and comes from its FUSE Labs division, a unit set up for research specifically into social networking. It has a very specific user group in mind: students and academics who are using social media to enhance their learning experiences.Isn't that how Zuck got started?So.cl is a mash-up of social networking, FUSE projects and search built on the Bing interface (you were expecting Google?). It's currently in testing in three universities and available only on an invitation basis. One of the FUSE projects being used by So.cl is Montage, a photo collage app.The service allows participants to build and share posts with photos, video, text and other elements. It also lets participants find other people with similar interests and their own build community."There have been social-search projects in the past but they’ve generally focused much more on how to improve the experience of search. In So.cl, there’s a shift in emphasis toward improving collaboration and connecting with other people around common interests," said Shelly Farnham, a FUSE Labs researcher working on So.cl in a story on Microsoft Research.To some degree, there are sites like this now. Mostly they are built around celebrity photo sharing, such as the SuperiorPics forum. It will be interesting to see if So.cl will make it simpler for those folks, who for now have to upload images to third-party hosts, then post thumbnails, etc.

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