peerspective: integrating social networks and web search

Over the last decade, the rise of the World Wide Web and the emergence of Web search engines have fundamentally transformed the way people exchange information. Recently, a new form of publishing and locating information, dubbed social networking, has become enormously popular. Unlike the Web, whose hyper-linked structure has received significant attention and has been exploited for searching content, the structure of information exchange over these social networks is not well understood. In PeerSpective, we integrate social network search with Web search, allowing you to search over your friends' viewed web pages.

PeerSpective uses the shared interest between you and your friends to help guide Web search. When you run a Google search, PeerSpective includes extra results which may be relevant to your question alongside the results from Google. For example, PeerSpective can naturally disambiguate between multiple definitions of ambigious terms: if you search for a friend named 'Peter' in PeerSpective, you're likely to get your friend's homepage, instead of the homepage of Peter Gabriel from Google.

PeerSpective works by indexing all web content you browse to, and then querying your friends' PeerSpective proxies when you run a Google search. Since these is often shared interest between you a your friends, PeerSpective takes advantage of this to select relevant pages to each Web search you run. The PeerSpective proxy runs on your desktop, so you have complete control over your proxy, and you can leave the system at any time.

PeerSpective is built on to of Skype, and talks only to your Skype contacts who are also running PeerSpective. Using Skype means you don't have to tell PeerSpective who your friends are - it uses your existing Skype contacts. You simply need to run Skype in the background and PeerSpective will discover and communicate with Skype. Additionally, PeerSpective will communicate between multiple machines running PeerSpective with the same Skype username. This allows you to search over your web browsing history across multiple machines.

Yes, you are welcome to try out PeerSpective. Since PeerSpective is an ongoing research project at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, we are slowly expanding our user base. PeerSpective is currently in beta status, but you are welcome to try it out. Note that you will need friends on Skype who are also running PeerSpective in order to have the search query multiple people.