NewsGator Social Sites Launches

One of the more interesting products NewsGator has built is Social Sites, a set of templates, web parts, and profiles for Microsoft Sharepoint that extends that product in some interesting ways.

First and foremost, we are layering in a comprehensive RSS feed management capability that provides end users and administrators with the ability to manage a catalog of feeds. The admin functions are important simply because most users in an enterprise need a starting bundle of feeds to get going and administrators want the capability to push feeds, internal and external, to users.

There is another aspect to the feed management that is important here, filtering and relevance. Most of us don’t need more feeds, we need better filtered feeds and recommendations from people we grant authority, either through working relationships or peer groups. The tagging and sharing enables this so that my workgroup or peer group, colleagues I add to my sidebar, can see what I am sharing.

I recently wrote a post on Microsoft Sharepoint being something similar to Facebook for the enterprise. When you look at the profile pages that are managed by users themselves you can start to see how this is taking shape as a concept. While it is certainly unlikely that we will see a web part equivalent of Vampires, a Twitter web part does seem like a good fit.

More importantly, by looking at someone’s profile, in this case Ashley Roach’s, I can see what areas of interest he has, technologies he follows, and his projects. Many of the social networking projects being targeted at the enterprise, such as SAP’s Harmony, promise exactly this kind of capability so it’s kind of cool to be able to say that we can do it today.

Lastly, by stepping back up to a global view of the Social Sites service I can see what feeds and groups are moving up and down in popularity, as well as a global tag cloud and recent posts. Useful data and presented in a straightforward manner.


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Using NewsGator to Defeat China’s Censors

This was the only thing in this article that made me feel good.

"Web-based feed aggregators such as NewsGator Online reportedly help regain access to RSS feeds."

But as the article points out, China’s censors are highly developed technically and have caught on to RSS. What they will constantly be playing cat-and-mouse with though is the reality that RSS can be used to ship data anywhere so absent of specific language processing techniques the censors it will be difficult to fully lock down domain-based censoring.

At some point American technology companies are going to have to pull their heads out of the sand on this issue, companies like Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, and Cisco are enabling Chinese authorities with the technology to repress speech instead of expanding it, and that is just perverse.

In the end these companies will lose anyways because China ultimately will rely on a stack of technologies developed by Chinese companies that are free from foreign interference.