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A small world search agent employing peer-to-peer (P2P) concepts borrowed from sociology is employed for performing image retrievals in a small world distributed media index. The Small World Indexing Method (SWIM) allows for a highly networked architecture where index information does not exist as a separate entity on a specific server, but rather is stored within the actual media objects themselves. Since each media object is only responsible for a small portion of the overall index, the loss of portions of the overall network (data objects) accounts for only a small degradation in the overall retrieval performance. Building upon previous work, the graceful degradation which is provided by the SWIM system is addressed here for retrievals which are performed using small world user agents on a large set of MPEG-7 described images.