Ok, so we've talked about some of the "touch points" of Connections - so I want to get to the next part of this discussion.
We talked about the business card and bookmarking embedded links. These represent two important design patterns.
First, the business card. This represents three key design concepts - first that a person can be "represented" via this notion of a self-contained card and is tied to some artifact on a page that uniquely defines that person (Display name or email address). Second, that the card shows a concise "abstract" of information/meta-data for the object it's tied to, in this case a person, and you can see things like the picture, and contact information for that person. Finally, the third concept has to do with the links that appear on the card - making the card a "navigational pivot". This pivot let's someone inspect something on a page (a person in this case) and learn a little about them and then follow threads out from this point to some related point, pivoting on the "person".
To summarize, the patterns are;
1. Encapsulated Card
2. Meta-data content view in the card
3. Navigational Pivot centered around the object represented by the Card
Now, where else could we make use of these kinds of patterns?
For me, I think there are one, possibly two really useful ones. And they stem from this first implementation of the card...
A Community card - this would be great for things that surface that have a relation to a community - like, search for Forum topics with the phrase "Gruyere" and a bunch of results come back...one would be Forum Topic, my favorite cheese and an icon, "Community Forum". Imagine that you could hover over that icon and get a Community card, just like the business card for a person.
What should that Community card have in it? And the links?
Now, while we're on this card concept, are there other "entities" that deserve a card? One that gives you some contextual information and links out to the things related to this "entity" - certainly things like "Business Units", "Corporations", and "Organizations" would seem to fall into this category. Can you think of any others?
Ok, the second pattern. The bookmarks embedded links reflect two basic concepts. First a list of content items and second, customized query - related to a keyword or tag. Even though this was something that came from Bookmarks, in essence, since so much of the user interaction with Connections comes in the form of lists of things, this concept could really be expanded to include information from any service. And could be used in one of two ways, either as a way to add/enhance information on some page with data from the Connections social universe OR as a way for someone to pay attention to concepts/topics/trends that they are interested in. And all we have to do to capture this provide a simple html list, going against one of the list views of any of the connections service, and optionally add some keyword or tag specifier. The applications of this seem endless - what do you think are the most compelling? Forum topics? Communities? Files? Wiki Page? Blog Entries? Blog Comments? Entries from your favorite Activity? The membership list of your community?
To summarize, the pattern here is;
1. html list that is dynamically composed for items from a service
2. optionally can have keywords or tags associated to "scope" the list
Ok, we didn't talk about this Social Everywhere aspect in a previous entry, but I want to bring it up. If you've used Connections you may be aware of the "Bookmarklet" browser plugin. It's really cool in that it has a couple of "features" - First, installation, just go to the Tools link which you can find in the footer of any Connections page. Here I went to the public IBM connections service, and at the bottom of that page it's been renamed "How to Bookmark"
Click that bad boy and you'll see this
you simply drag a drop the thing into your browser..and then, on ANY web page you click that tool bar button and you'll get prompted to save the bookmark, as shown here
it even pre-populates the form with title and url...and then you can save it to one or more places in connections...anyway, what's cool is this is another pattern of the Social Everywhere idea. Now we've given this to users of Connections by enabling it in the footer and then letting users install...and it allows them to connect any URL to their social world...this is a pattern we've seen a lot, with many of the popular social computing sites - think about when you read a news item on some website ,invariably they've got these "share" icons that let you push links and comments into your favorite social software tool...and this is exactly the same pattern here.
So, what else could we do with this "bookmarklet"...well, a hell of a lot, right?
Here's some of my thoughts - first, connect up the URL with a tiny URL service to get a tiny url, and then, instead of Bookmark you can post a Profile Status message including this tiny URL....and even, as a side effect, also save the URL into bookmarks, etc. Another - call this thing "Discuss this" and you'd start a Discussion Topic in your favorite Forum and it would also include a link to reference this thing, or "Create a blog entry for this", or, Start an Activity for this...etc....the list goes on and on..., Now this is a really cool way to bend the bookmarklet idea into a more universal kind of tool.
Cool huh? Ok, let's hear what you have to say on all of this...tell me your ideal Social Everywhere action, application, thought...