Meredith Ringel Morris, a computer scientist at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Wash., has created one of these collaborative tools, SearchTogether, now available in a test version as a free download at http://research.microsoft.com/
searchtogether. The program is designed to work within the Internet Explorer 7 browser.“Web search is usually considered a solitary activity,” Dr. Morris said. “But many tasks can benefit from joint searching.”
The system also has a “peek and follow” feature that lets a group member watch another member search.
This is a fascinating idea that hasn't been tried before. Although search is commonly an individual activity, there are many scenarios when being able to directly share the search activity and discuss the results is invaluable; e.g. in a business context, geographically distributed team members could collaborate on project tasks that include internet search activities; similarly, in a family context, you could remotely assist less-computer-savvy adults or children in completing tasks that include web search.
Coincidentally, earlier this week Google also launched their own take on social search. The Google SearchWiki enables you to customize search by re-ranking, deleting, adding, and commenting on search results. These results only affect your own searches, but you can share your annotations and changes with others; although as Marshall Kirkpatrick notes on the ReadWriteWeb, viewing these annotations leads to a poor user experience. No doubt that will change soon; the area of social search is very important to Google, as Marissa Mayer noted in a VentureBeat interview in January of this year.
Of course, there are many other social search engines - Delver, OneRiot, Scour, Tusavvy, Yoono, et al (I still remember Lijit, but it seems to have turned into a publisher application); Mashable has a has a list .