IBM Tool Lets Users Literally See Social Connections

Loraine Lawson

IBM's created quite a bit of buzz this week with its announcement of Atlas, a tool that lets users see social connections. Atlas works with Lotus Connections, which is a social networking software that creates blogs, communities, bookmarks and other things of 2.0 ilk. IBM also announced that version 1.02 of Lotus Connections is now available and includes an API based on the REST (Representational State Transfer) and Atom standards, according to eWeek.

 

Atlas is all about allowing you to visualize -- visualize social connections, visualize relationships, visualize experts and, of course, visualize your own social network. It generates the connections as graphical representations in four components -- Net, myNet, Find and Reach.

 

Ironically, everyone is writing about it but, apparently no one, not even IBM, had the foresight to upload a few screenshots.

 

Fortunately, IBM's PR firm was nice enough to send some pictures, and I can tell you, it makes a lot more sense when you see the screenshots. So, here's a picture of a sample myNet page.

 

myNet maps a individual user's network. You can compare this with Net, which presents the larger social network picture.


 

I'm partial to the Reach component, which maps up to six degrees of separation between you and someone else -- just enough to get everyone to Kevin Bacon (I'm a Bacon 2, thank you very much). What's neat about this is you can see all the people you'd have to contact -- and in what order -- to reach the person you need.

 

If the pictures aren't enough, eWeek has the best description of each component. For examples of how it could be used in business, check out this article from internetnews.com.

 

I can see how this tool would be extremely useful in a large organization, where it's not possible to know everyone in the company or even walk down to their office.

 

But smaller companies and the self-employed might want to read our Q&A about illumio, a Web 2.0 technology that can help companies and individuals take advantage of the benefits of online social network technology -- without giving out information you'd rather keep private.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 7, 2008 1:16 AM Peter-Anthony Glick Peter-Anthony Glick  says:
Hello LoraineThis social connections viewing tool from IBM will be fantastic in an Google-like organization where communities, informal collaboration and knowledge-sharing is the way of life. However, rolling this out in an organization where people are stuck in their job description and with their immediate colleagues (the majority today I'm afraid) it would be a bit like offering brand new luxury cars to each inhabitants of an African village where only a few know how to drive, where there is no roads and where the nearest petrol station is 2hrs drive!In other words, a waste of time and money with the risk of generating social incidents and a lot of frustration.But hey, new technologies often came first and people/companies having then to adapt to what they enabled. Peter-Anthony Glick Reply
Jan 11, 2008 12:16 PM Mark Newman Mark Newman  says:
Hi LoraineHaving looked closely at the screenshots, it looks like IBM are trying to compete with MetaSight (a tool which has been available for a few years now.Mark Newman Reply

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