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Tools Help Companies Find, Share Information

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                   SoHo NEWS & TIPS
Helping You Make the Most of Your Small Office/Home Office
        SoHoTIPS.com
------------------------------------------------------------

Greetings,

Does your job require finding and sharing a lot of 
information? This can often lead to a lot of headaches, 
right!? Well, with a new tool known as social bookmarking, 
the task of finding and sharing information might become a 
little less tedious...

Best,
Mandi

P.S. You can discuss this issue or any other topic in the 
new SoHo News & Tips forum. Check it out here...

SoHo News & Tips Forum

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NEWS & TIDBITS

- Comair will impose wage cuts and changes in work 
rules for its unionized flight attendants on 11/15....

- Tower Records is sold for $134M to Great 
American Group, which plans to liquidate the music 
retailer...

- Ford Motor Co. said it is recalling 140,000
vehicles whose defective door latches could freeze, 
causing the doors to swing open in traffic...

- McAfee Inc. fired its president and said its 
chief executive would retire after an internal 
probe into the software maker's stock option 
practices...

- Carphone Warehouse is buying AOL's UK internet 
access business from Time Warner...

- Oracle will pay the US government US$98.5 million 
to compensate for allegations that PeopleSoft, the 
software company Oracle acquired last year, over-
charged government customers for years...

- Sovereign Bancorp Inc's long-running chief 
executive Jay Sidhu resigned amid pressure from 
shareholders unhappy about the sale of a major 
stake to a Spanish banking giant...

- Private equity firm Apollo Management LP said 
that it would pay $990 million in cash for Jacuzzi 
Brands Inc...



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Tools Help Companies Find, Share Information 
By MICHAEL TOTTY

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to easily locate 
that online article you saved last week -- among 
the hundreds of other files you've saved? Wouldn't
it be nice to know what articles your boss thought 
were interesting enough to save on the same topic?

For those whose jobs require working with lots of 
information, finding it and sharing it remain big 
headaches. And locating information you've found 
and filed is often harder than discovering it in 
the first place.

Now some companies, including International 
Business Machines Corp., are tackling the issue 
with new products based on a technology called 
social bookmarking that has been gaining adherents 
among the tech cognoscenti.

Social bookmarking is seen as a simple way to 
enhance search tools by letting users mark their 
saved files with their own keywords, called "tags," 
which then can be used to organize, recall or 
distribute the documents. "It's not complex 
technology at all," says Jeff Nolan, director of a 
strategy group at SAP AG in Palo Alto, Calif., who 
is testing bookmarking software from two start-ups. 
"People end up using it and getting great value out 
of it."

'The Secret Sauce'

Social-bookmarking tools get much of their useful-
ness from the work that users themselves put in, 
instead of relying on preset categories for 
organizing information, as traditional information-
management tools do. "The secret sauce is the 
people using them," says Mr. Nolan.

To understand how social bookmarking works, 
imagine you're on a corporate team doing research 
on outsourcing. Your assignment is code-named 
Project Overseas. Typically, you'd do a Web search 
and perhaps save relevant documents to your 
computer's working folder. Each file would have 
whatever name is on the document -- making it hard 
to find any particular document when you want to 
call it up later.

With social-bookmarking software, when you find a 
page that's worth keeping, you click on the book-
marking button, and a window pops up that allows 
you to create whatever tags you want to assign to 
that document. The idea is to identify files with 
words that reflect a document's meaning to you, 
even if the term isn't in the document itself. 
For one document, it could be "Project Overseas," 
"India" and "call center." For another, it could 
be "Project Overseas," "Romania" and "software."

Afterward, you can click on the "tags" button and 
see a list of all the tags you've created. You can 
easily pick out the documents you need.

What's more -- and this is where the "social" part
comes in -- you can see the lists of tags created 
by other people on the system. You can see who 
else has tagged the same documents you've tagged. 
Or you can pick anybody on the system, such as 
your boss, and see what he or she has thought 
worthy of tagging.


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What's Available

Social-bookmarking systems designed to be used 
inside companies aren't yet widely available. IBM, 
which has been testing a social-bookmarking service 
called Dogear internally since July of 2005, plans 
to add the technology to its Lotus collaboration 
suite as part of a broad platform of so-called 
social-networking tools as soon as early next 
year.

BEA Systems Inc., a San Jose, Calif., software 
maker, plans to add the ability to share and tag 
bookmarks as part of its Aqualogic corporate-
portal product in the first half of next year; in
addition to Web pages, the product will enable 
users to tag documents, some email messages and 
multimedia files. AskMe Corp., in Bellevue, Wash., 
is adding tagging to a future version of its 
knowledge-management software. And at least two 
start-ups, ConnectBeam Inc. of Newark, Calif., and 
Cogenz Ltd., based in the U.K., have been offering 
test versions of their social-bookmarking software 
to a few customers.

The way people at IBM have been using its Dogear 
service illustrates how the tools can make it 
easier to manage and share information inside a 
company.

Dogear, developed by researchers at IBM's Watson 
Research Center in Cambridge, Mass., lets employees 
store links to pages on the company's intranet or 
the larger Web and then label them with one or more 
tags. Users can decide to keep private some or all 
of their tagged bookmarks. So far, the service has 
about 6,000 users and has collected about 100,000 
bookmarks.

The system is already being used to improve 
internal search results. When an employee uses 
IBM's internal search engine, the first three 
results are pages that have been stored in Dogear. 
In about a quarter of the searches that deliver 
results from Dogear, users are clicking on those 
results instead of those delivered from the search 
index.

Sharing With Others

Tagging also has made it easy to share documents 
with others. For instance, David Millen, one of 
the IBM researchers who developed Dogear, says he 
was helping a team that was researching the motor-
cycle industry for a client. With Dogear, he could
tag his Web research, and the other team members 
could easily find the documents by browsing the 
tags.

"It was a fairly quick way to get a widely 
distributed client team to be familiar with the 
company and the industry," says Mr. Millen, a 
group research manager at the Watson Research 
Center.

Users can also have newly tagged items delivered 
automatically, by subscribing to particular tags 
or individuals' bookmarks. Mr. Millen says he 
subscribes to the bookmarks of several "thought 
leaders" from around IBM to see what kinds of 
topics they're following. "There isn't a time that 
I see their bookmarks without seeing something 
I'm interested in," he says.

Moreover, Mr. Millen says, you don't need to have 
everybody going public with their bookmarks to make 
the system useful. "All you need is a small number 
of people bookmarking" to get the benefits, he 
says. "Freeloaders are welcome."


So what did you think about this issue? Drop me a line and let 
me know at mailto:mandi@gophercentral.com 

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