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With every version of SharePoint, Microsoft has added more and more personal and social features, and by that I mean they are trying to bring into SharePoint the idea of sites like LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter, for connecting people and keeping people updated. You'll basically find all of these options will be driven from the dropdown menu where your name is and you might find more or less options based on what your administrator has enabled or disabled. It's an interesting idea, because you'll actually see several different links.
You'll see phrases like My Site, My Profile, My Settings, and in other contexts you'll see other links. But there are really only three places they are going to take you to. And I actually prefer the idea of the My Profile as the one that drives everything. If you're coming from the old SharePoint 2007 world, you might be used to My Site as being the most important thing, but I think My Profile in this version of SharePoint really is. So here's the My Profile homepage, which as you can probably tell I filled out a little bit.
Put some information about myself. Because it detects that I am on looking at myself here, I do get the button here that says Edit My Profile. It's going to be bringing in some of this information from your existing user database like Active Directory, but a lot of the rest you can change. You can put things about yourself. You can upload a picture. You can add some topics that you feel free to have people ask you about and they can get in touch with you. Contact Information, again, a lot of this is optional. Details of past projects that you might have worked on.
You can put your birthday down if you want to do that and that will let other people know when your birthday is. Below that you have a section called Newsfeed Settings. I'll talk about that in just a second. So I'm not going to change anything. I'm just going to hit Cancel and go back. Now, you'll see several links up at the top. You see My Site is kind of showing up there as if it's the most important thing, then My Newsfeed and My Content. We're on the My Profile page. I'm going to click on My Newsfeed. Now this was also sometimes known as the Activity Feed and I actually prefer that name for it, but regardless of if you call it the Activity Feed or the Newsfeed, this is an automatic page.
And what I mean by that is if you're familiar with using say RSS readers and other newsfeeds, you might think that you're supposed to manually subscribe to certain pieces of information to have them show up here and that's not really what happens here. It's actually trying to draw information from your profile. Flicking back over to my profile, if I say that I want to edit it, then down towards the bottom I have Newsfeed Settings. What am I interested in, when do I want to be sent emails, what activities am I following.
And by having these all checked, and they are all checked by default, what it's going to do is find information from my colleagues, things like documents that they've tagged or anything that they've changed, their job title has been updated, their manager has changed. Well the question might be well how does it know who your colleagues are? Again, go back to the profile. If I can click on this Colleagues section here, it's actually going to detect some of your colleagues based on information that it's reading from Active Directory or wherever your user database is stored.
Although if you think it's getting it wrong you could actually click Add Colleagues and manually add people yourself or even remove people. By reading this information it can even give you the Organization section which if you have Silverlight, it will actually show up with this nice clickable interactive little control that you can play around with. Again, for most people this would go a lot deeper than just two or three people. But it's your colleagues and your profile settings that are actually driving what shows up on your newsfeed. These three links at the top are merely going to take you back to the places that I just showed you.
If you click Newsfeed Settings, we go back to the Newsfeed sections of your profile. You click My Interests. You go back to the My Interest section of your profile. We click My Colleagues. You go to the Colleagues section of My Profile. This is one of the reasons why I think that My Profile page is the one that really drives everything that's going on here. This little speech bubble here is more inline with the Twitter idea. A little quick one line status update. And whenever I put here and change will actually be considered an activity that would show up in the Activity Feed of colleagues or anybody who is actually following me.
It will also try and read things like memberships and distribution groups that it thinks you are a member of. At the moment, it doesn't find any for me. But the whole idea of networking people, of reading this information, of reading things like the organization chart, trying to see who it thinks is my dotted line manager and generating this little browser for me, allows me to connect very quickly to people. I could, for example, click on Gini Paxon's name and I'll see her version of her profile with her updates. Because it knows I'm not Gini, I don't get the ability to edit that profile, but I can certainly browse it.
But Gini has filled out some of this information, so she said, you can ask me about SharePoint governance, so I could click that and put a little question in there and that would count as an activity for her. So this like all social networking sites becomes more and more useful, the more people start to actually use it, the more people start to fill it out. And I've noticed that in installations where I've helped implement their SharePoint features that this has a way of kind of starting slow and then taking off. It kind of snowballs and reaches critical mass.
But if everything is really being driven from My Profile and My Newsfeed, what about the other links? Well, we also have the My Site link, which typically and depending how this is configured may even just take you the same page as your My Newsfeed. There is not actually any different there. However, the one I haven't clicked on yet is this, My Content. You may or may not see this. This is the closest thing to what was called the My Site feature in SharePoint 2007. Now if you can click this, the first time you do it will actually create you a unique site just for yourself.
In SharePoint 2007 this used to be a lot more complex. It was kind of the combined profile and content and newsfeed, everything all shrunk into one, and now they have split this up a bit more. Really what we're looking at here is a SharePoint site with a couple of libraries on it. One to contain some shared document so that if you want to have certain documents displayed to anyone who can view your profile, they can see it, and one for personal documents. I wouldn't keep anything very personal in here. I wouldn't keep personal tax records for example, because these documents will still be visible to me and administrators on this server, but they will not be shared with everybody.
From this page you could also even create your own blog and that would actually mean that you would be creating a completely separate blog site just for your own content. All of this information that you might start to fill out on your profile and your memberships and your colleagues, becomes searchable information. The idea, of course, is that it is like something like a LinkedIn or professional version of Facebook or Twitter. It's designed to help people find other people. So if you need to find who has got SharePoint experience in your organization, well, you should be able to search on that phrase.
If you're trying to find who has worked on particular past projects with certain clients, that should be searchable as well. That's the real value of this is the more the people fill it out, the more useful it becomes.
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