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IBM Tool Lets Users Literally See Social Connections

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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.

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