August 01, 2003
Big Red(mond) Looking Into Online Communities

It appears that Microsoft Research is turning its attention (and considerable resources) to exploring the dynamics of what they call “social cyberspaces”:

According to Smith, social cyberspaces include e-mail, e-mail distribution lists, chat rooms, buddy lists, instant messages, message boards, weblogs (“blogs”), and discussion groups such as Usenet. Today, most of these virtual spaces offer little or no “social accounting” data or information that helps users get a big-picture view of the community they are interacting with. Yet the role of social cyberspaces is becoming increasingly important…

At Microsoft® Research, Smith leads the Community Technologies group, which is developing tools that can help people make more informed decisions on which community members they can trust, instead of acting on blind faith.

One interesting application they’ve developed as part of this is something called Netscan, which provides an interesting view into the roiling sea of data that Usenet has become. It’ll be interesting to see what other tools they can come up with that might be of more interest to general users (I’m probably one of the last people on earth who still enjoys reading discussions on Usenet). [Seen on Michael Gartenberg’s Weblog]

Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at August 01, 2003
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