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10/8/2007
05:04 PM
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Intel Goes Social, Launches Digg-Like Site To Spot Trends

Cool Software is intended to provide Intel with market intelligence rather than to foster a community.

Intel on Monday launched social news site called Cool Software to help keep abreast of emerging technology trends.

Cool Software may look at lot like Digg. That's because it's based on Pligg, open source software that allows anyone to run a social news site with Digg-style voting. But Cool Software is intended to provide Intel with market intelligence rather than to foster a community.

"I wouldn't characterize it as getting into social news," said Steve Santamaria, director of Intel's Software and Solutions Group, in an interview. Rather, he said, the site began as an internal project designed to keep Intel personnel informed about new technology and startups.

"I almost flippantly said I want you to find the next Google early," Santamaria said he told his team.

Intel has created other community-oriented sites, like WhatIf.Intel.com last month, though they tend to cater to developers. In October 2006, it launched the Intel Software Partner Program, a membership-based program for independent software vendors.

While Cool Software was an internal resource, it did provide some valuable insight. Santamaria said it identified Zimbra, a Web 2.0 enterprise e-mail service provider, early on as a company to watch. "It was voted up internally," he said.

Yahoo evidently was thinking along similar lines because it bought Zimbra for $350 million last month.

Having been surprised by the popularity of the site among Intel's manufacturing partners, the company decided to open it to the public. Before it did so, however, it deleted some of the more heated discussions.

"We kind of stripped out some of the commentary ... just in case there was a tension with internal engagement," said Santamaria.

As to why anyone would want to help Intel in its trend-spotting efforts, Santamaria said he thought people would welcome the opportunity to be heard and to influence Intel.

Judging by the top post at the moment, which asks, "Are looking for some diet tips to get in shape?" it seems there's no shortage of people who want to be heard.

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