Friday, October 28, 2011

Feature of the Week: Introducing BibSonomy Spheres

What are BibSonomy Spheres?

As a social bookmark and publication sharing system, most of BibSonomy's content is user generated and as the number of users using the system is increasing, also the amount of information available increases. Consequently more and more topics of interest come into the system and accordingly the user has to somehow focus on relevant entries. One approach for focussing on relevant resources is to just look at entries of users which are relevant for you. But interests are diverse and accordingly the set of relevant users distributes over the set of interests.

BibSonomy now allows you to arbitrarily group other users according to your topics of interest. You could, e.g. build a group of your co-workers and one of users which you share some interests. Such a group is called "Sphere".

How can a build a sphere and assign users to it?

If you have identified a user as relevant to, e.g., your 'soccer' topic of interest, you can navigate to the users page in BibSonomy (e.g.
on the top of the sidebar (on the right) you see the 'friend' button.

Here you can add or remove the user from some of your spheres but you can also create a new sphere by entering the corresponding name into the input field and pressing 'add' (or the enter key). Note that you can directly navigate to each sphere by clicking on the sphere names.

Accessing your Spheres

You get a brief summary of your spheres if you navigate to http/ (or by following the 'mySpheres' entry in your personal menu. On this summary page you essentially find each sphere's members as well as the corresponding tag clouds:

But also on the side bar on your profile page or the friends page you find a "sphere cloud" linking to your spheres:

As on any other resource list in BibSonomy, you can also follow a given sphere using a rss-feed (publrss/sphere/).

Following a Sphere in iGoogle

You can finally follow a sphere by adding our brand new iGoogle gadget to your iGoogle Dashboard. Just add our gadget either directly or even simpler by following this link (please don't get irritated by the privacy dialog - we don't access any of your private data stored at google. We just store your query parameters).

Why should I use BibSonomy spheres?

Firstly, of course, because it is a cool feature ;-) But we will also to continue to build services upon BibSonomy's Spheres, such as personalized user and tag recommendations, improving search and many more. By using BibSonomy Spheres you also support this development by providing valuable data for training our models.


BibSonomy Spheres as well as the iGoogle Gadget are in an early development phase. Please excuse any bug you encounter and leave us a short message, so that we can fix it as soon as possible. We are also open to improvements. So, if you happen to have any comments, pleas don't hesitate to email us.

Best Wishes,

Folke Mitzlaff

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