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IBM’s Lotus Connections, a business product, includes a bookmarking system called Dogear that organizes information with the participation of a networked community. When a user bookmarks a site, up pop tags that other users have added to it, says product manager Suzanne Minassian. Dogear also shows how many others have bookmarked the same site and provides links that can lead users to those people. The result, Minassian says, is that users can find people with shared interests and connect to those people through the system.

Listas’s developers are still working on increasing community involvement with the site, Flake says. “With all community sites, there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg dilemma,” he says, noting that a strong community attracts more community activity. Live Labs’ technology previews are meant to be even more raw than most products’ early releases, Daley says, and are very much works in progress. “We try to release early and release often,” he says. As a result, many changes to Listas are on the way.

Some of those changes will be aimed at increasing the usability of the interface. For instance, using the toolbar to clip information could be a more streamlined process. Other changes will advance the philosophy of the service, such as Flake’s plan to change the way comments are structured. With most of today’s blogs, Flake says, if you post a comment, that information no longer belongs to you: you often can’t edit it or delete it, and it’s hosted on someone else’s page. Flake says that he plans to give Listas a system that structures comments as simply another list–one belonging to the person posting the comments.

If Listas does well, Microsoft may integrate it with products or develop it as a product, but for now, the researchers say, there is no effort to make it profitable. “Listas is at the beginning of the experiment,” Daley says.

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Credit: Listas

Tagged: Communications, Web, Microsoft, social networking

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