Ph.D. Thesis Proposal: Matthew Bonner

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Title: Roles and Privacy in Social Search and Online Health Seeking

Matthew Bonner
School of Interactive Computing
College of Computing
Georgia Institute of Technology

Date: May 17, 2012
Time: 12:00pm - 3:00pm (EST)
Location: TSRB 223


  • Dr. Elizabeth D. Mynatt (Advisor, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology)
  • Dr. Mark Braunstein, MD (School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology)
  • Dr. Eric Gilbert (School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology)
  • Dr. Rebecca E. Grinter (School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology)
  • Dr. Meredith Ringel Morris (School of Information; Dept. of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington; Microsoft Research)


Social search can take many forms, and information retrieval researchers are working to understand how and why people search together. Researchers have developed numerous support systems along with competing taxonomies to classify those systems, which can make it difficult to form cohesive research questions. I propose classifying social search systems within a continuum from from passive to active, with hybrid tools that transition between states. This crystallizes research questions revolving around user privacy and the interaction between system and socio-professional roles. Online Health Seeking, the process through which people find, consume, and share information online, is a widespread and high-impact activity. Because OHS involves a myriad of different actors working with sensitive health information ideal fit for social search questions on roles and privacy. In the process of answering these questions, I will also explore social search's capacity to provide an appropriate medical home for OHS. I propose an iterative set of studies, developing an active, passive, and hybrid social search tool. These tools will be developed using a participatory design approach with the Emory Predictive Health Institute's employees and clients, and evaluated in the field using mixed qualitative and quantitative methods.


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