News / Peter Brusilovsky receives Google Research Grant to study personalized social systems

The Google Research Awards Program has announced that it will fund a research project, "Personalized
Social Systems for Local Communities," to be directed by Peter Brusilovsky, Associate Professor at the iSchool. The grant, for $55,000, will support efforts to increase user participation in social systems designed for local communities. The contribution-driven mechanism of modern social systems requires a high level of user activity, which is typically not available in small location-bound communities. In the course of the project, Brusilovsky and his team will explore two innovative ideas for increasing participation. The first idea is to provide access to information “beyond the desktop,” by adding a mobile location-based interface to access information. This will increase both the number of active users and the volume of their contributions. The second idea is to provide personalized access to information to increase the chance to gather relevant information. This work will be based on two existing social systems that were developed and maintained by Brusilovsky’s lab: the CoMeT system for sharing information about research talks at Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh and Eventur, a social system for recommending cultural events in the Pittsburgh area. The project will incorporate practical testing of both interfaces in the target communities in order to explore the value of these innovations. The Google Research Awards program aims to identify and support world-class, full-time faculty pursuing innovative research in areas relevant to Google’s mission.