New feature: Activity tracking

Recent Activity animation demo

The following is the first in a series of posts on some of the new features in our latest release of ThoughtFarmer.

Tracking the history of changes in ThoughtFarmer has been a core feature since our first release. In 2.5, however, we’ve made a number of enhancements that have greatly improved the usefulness of this feature.

Activity is generated every time a user performs an action in ThoughtFarmer. Adding or editing a page, adding a comment, updating your status: all actions trigger new activity events. Each activity is linked back to the person and the related page. ThoughtFarmer then takes these activities and aggregates them throughout the site:

  • On user profile pages, all activities by a person are aggregated
  • On directory pages, all activities related to content within that section are displayed
  • On the home page, activities across the entire site are displayed

Even on a smaller intranet, all this activity tracking can quickly get overwhelming. ThoughtFarmer manages the volume by filtering out low-priority events on areas that see high volumes, like the home page.

ThoughtFarmer also helps you filter site activity by proximity: an idea inspired by the concept of proxemics, first articulated by American anthropologist and cultural researcher Edward T. Hall in the 1960’s.

While proxemics describe how we relate to each other in physical space, we’ve applied it to the intranet and how we relate to each other through information space. You can think of proxemics in terms of concentric circles. At the centre of your information universe is your content: pages you’ve created or edited. Expanding outwards, you come across other people and the edits or changes they’ve made to your content. Outwards further, you see the activity related to content in the groups of which you belong – here you may find modifications to documents related to your project or location or department, but not content you necessarily created. Finally, you reach the edge of the organizational content space and can see the entire set of changes across the intranet.

thoughtfarmer_proxemics.png

We’ve been using 2.5 internally now for several weeks and the new activity tracking has really been a useful way to find new content and track what’s going on within our intranet.

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