WaterCooler: Exploring an organization through enterprise social media


Michael J. Brzozowski

Social Computing Lab, HP Labs


As organizations scale up, their collective knowledge increases, and the potential for serendipitous collaboration between members grows dramatically. However, finding people with the right expertise or interests becomes much more difficult. Semi-structured social media, such as blogs, forums, and bookmarking, present a viable platform for collaborationĖif enough people participate, and if shared content is easily findable. Within the trusted confines of an organization, users can trade anonymity for a rich identity that carries information about their role, location, and position in its hierarchy.

This paper describes WaterCooler, a tool that aggregates shared internal social media and cross-references it with an organizationís directory. We deployed WaterCooler in a large global enterprise and present the results of a preliminary user study. Despite the lack of complete social networking affordances, we find that WaterCooler changed usersí perceptions of their workplace, made them feel more connected to each other and the company, and redistributed usersí attention outside their own business groups.


To appear at GROUP 2009, May 10-13, 2009.

» Download full paper (PDF)

Cite as

Brzozowski, M.J. 2009. WaterCooler: Exploring an organization through enterprise social media. In Proc. of the 2009 international conference on supporting group work. May 10-13, 2009, Sanibel Island, FL, USA. ACM Press.