More on social software from this week's Financial Times...this article mentions IBM's work in paradigm shifting through concepts like Activities.

Michael Muller, a scientist with IBM's Watson Research Center, has been involved in numerous projects to design and test ways of collaborating. Mr Muller, an expert in "participatory design" with a PhD in cognitive psychology, recalls an early attempt at a replacement called the Coordinator.

"The idea was to allow people to negotiate commitments: who would do what, and when," he says.

But it didn't work, partly because it only provided for the formalised: "will you do this?"; "yes I will"; etc. It did not allow people to say "how are your children?" or "it's a nice day today".

More recently, he was also involved in testing ActivityExplorer, an IBM product that supports collaboration linked to different messages, files and other objects, and attempts to offer a user-friendly alternative.

The programme was envisaged as supporting projects lasting a week, but a group of 33 interns who used it over 15 weeks surprised Mr Muller and his colleagues.

"By usage, they showed us things we never imagined. In part, in addition to these week-long projects there were also lunch dates, but also huge long threads of complex things that lasted for months... some were social and some of them were very work-related."
Link: Financial Times: E-mail: Is it out of control? > (Thanks, Mike)

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