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SONAR - SOcial Networking ARchitecture

Social Technologies


As the electronic world becomes more socially oriented (Web 2.0), many organizations are looking into social technologies to promote collaboration among their employees. Countless sources for valuable social network information exist inside and outside an organization, and can be used to derive and exploit an organization's social network. These sources can be public, such as blogs, wikis, and bookmarking systems, or private, such as email or instant messaging systems. Once the social network has been identified, organizations can use it for expertise location, collaboration, extended employee profiles, etc.

SONAR is an API and architecture for retrieving and sharing social network data in an organization and aggregating it across applications. SONAR extracts information on who's connected to whom, with what strength, and based on what evidence. SONAR is implemented as a service using a REST API and can be used by various clients. It is currently in use by a Lotus Sametime client (SonarBuddies) and the web client of an employee profile application (Fringe).

SONAR currently aggregates data from the following IBM sources:

  • Lotus Notes email and calendar
  • Lotus Sametime chats
  • Lotus Connections Blogs
  • Lotus Connections Bookmarks
  • IBM internal profiles (Blue pages)
  • IBM internal People Tagging and friending system
  • Lotus Connections Activities
  • Lotus Connections Communities
  • Lotus Connections Atlas
  • IBM internal wikis site
  • IBM Patents and Disclosures database
  • IBM Publications database

SONAR adheres to privacy restrictions, thus data extracted from emails and chats will be exposed only to their owner(s).
SONAR aggregates the data retrieved from its sources and extracts a weighted social network of a person and the artifacts connecting the people in that network. The weight factor expresses the strength of the connection between people. SONAR can also enable the extraction of a person's network according to a specific topic.

SONAR lets users ask questions such as:

  • Who does a person communicate with most?
  • What are all the artifacts co-authored by two individuals?
  • Who should I consult with regarding a certain topic?
  • What relates me to a person?
  • Who is similar to a person? Who shares similar interests?

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