RAA #1: Dogear Social Bookmarking

Millen, D. R., Feinberg, J., & Kerr, B. (2006). Dogear:  Social Bookmarking in the Enterprise. Paper presented at the CHI, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Purpose:  The purpose of this research was to establish user value of social bookmarking within business verses personal use.  To accomplish this, the researchers developed a social bookmarking tool for a field test deployment with the plan to analyze adoption behavior and user experience.  The tool was designed and customized in order to meet the needs of the targeted user audience, which were self identified as IT professionals/experts.  Design attributes included:  1) both personal and business links could be saved, sorted, viewed and 2) links could be made private, shared for particular groups or department use only.

Methods:  The method used for the study was a field test deployment of their bookmarking tool (Dogear), within a VERY large IT firm employing over 300,000 associates.  Word of mouth was used to promote use of the tool within the firm.  Both quantitative and qualitative data was collected for analysis.  The quantitative data was harvested from the activity logs of the users (clicks, creates, etc.) while qualitative data was harvested from intracompany blogs and direct emails to the researchers.

Main findings: The main findings of this study suggest that social bookmarking is a tool that can be adapted and may be considered beneficial in the business environment.  Most contributors commented that use of the tool did assist them in information finding.  The large number of user shared links (vs. private) seems to indicate user willingness to share information with co-workers, which may lead to community building by helping employees with common needs/interests find each other (expert location assistance). In addition the volume of posted links would tend to indicate a business need for information location and retrieval.

Analysis:  I found this study interesting and important in that it choose to deploy an actual beta Ent 2.0 tool into the real world of work.  Often I read research that appears meaningful to industry, only to read further into the article and discover the population used for analysis was college age research subjects rather than a representative population for the average firm.

That said, while the authors did deploy the tool into an enterprise setting, they chose an IT industry setting – which I feel is especially problematic when trying to gauge an IT based tool’s acceptance and “value”.  Perhaps it was just an unfortunate oversight, however I feel there is a case to suggest substantial population bias with this firm’s participation.  In this scenario, I am suggesting the bias is in favor of any IT based tool that would be presented.  This situation was made worse as many participants self reported as  “experts”, indicating even a higer level of IT user than “average”.  Had this tool been trialed in a consumer products, automotive, or any other non- IT based firm, I feel the evidence (which was very well presented) would have been much more compelling.