Thursday, February 10, 2005

Social computing at Microsoft Research

Bernard Moon has a fun article on his visit to the Social Computing Group at Microsoft Research.
    "We started with this little project ... [where] we looked at our emails, scanned them, and built [clusters] based on who you communicate with." This simple program -- which users don't have to input anything for or do anything with -- dynamically changes over time. The system automatically adds people to users' lists and groups them based on who users email and copy.

    The most interesting application to come out this idea is an email program the group dubbed Inner Circle, which lists alphabetically a user's top 40 correspondents ... When an Inner Circle user clicks on a person in that list, the program displays all the conversations the user has had with that person as well as any relevant documents or links that were sent.

    Another interesting application ... is Wallop, a group social network and blogging environment ... It includes a level of interactivity that other [blogging] sites can't currently match: You can post comments on just about anything (such as pictures or text), and you can mark an item -- not just the overall profile of a hot guy or girl -- on a person's page as a "favorite."
Fun and very interesting. There's great work going on in Microsoft Research. Unfortunately, it often seems to be stuck there.

As [MSR GM] Lili Cheng said, they are "like a startup group within Microsoft that has to pitch to other groups for them to learn about and consider our ideas." If you put up a hurdle that high, few are going to be able to jump it.

[via Robert Scoble]

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