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There are some new capabilities in our Summer '08 Awareness Platform release that allow Awareness customers to expand the ways their communities touch their customers.  Our widgets, APIs, and integration with SharePoint and Facebook allow organizations to create multiple "points of participation."   Let me explain.

The typical view of an online community is one in which you visit a URL and "enter" the community through a front door.  After you enter, you can read or contribute content, comments, etc. This is all fine, but it doesn't have to stop there. 

Through the use of APIs, widgets, Facebook and SharePoint integration you can create additional ways that content can be gathered and shared.  For example, Awareness widgets can be placed on any HTML page with only two lines of code.  What kind of widget would you want to put on a page outside of your community's UI?  How about showing a list of "most recent posts," or "highest rated posts," or "most active contributors" on your main web site as a way to entice visitors to participate in your community?  Want to see an example of this?  Visit the main page of our website and on the right hand rail you'll see a list of such widgets, seamlessly appearing among "normal" HTML content on the page.   The widgets display content from the community (they could also gather content from users, too, but in this case they don't).The same thing can be done -- with greater control and customizability -- using the Awareness API

Awareness widgets can also be placed on widget-based environments, such as iGoogle.

There are other "points of participation" that can be created, too -- for example, a Facebook application that allows users to participate in a community directly from inside Facebook, or a set of SharePoint Web Parts that allow users to particpate in a community direclty from inside SharePoint.

All of these options are designed to let users interact with their communities from "where they live" -- on particular web pages, iGoogle, Facebook, SharePoint, etc.

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I've already been asked 4 times today what I thought about "Open Social". Open Social is Google's initiative to allow developers to write to one API and pick which social "host" to get the data from.
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