Inventors’ Corner U.S. Patent 7,634,461—A system and method for enhancing keyword relevance by user’s interest on search result documents

Searching for documents previously accessed via your computer—even those you just opened a few days ago—isn’t always quick and easy. U.S. Patent #7,634,461 introduces a potential solution that can make it easier to find a wide range of data, such as text or spreadsheet documents, e-mail messages, Web pages, media files, folders, and more.

This invention describes a system and method that enables a user to search for documents previously viewed, created or edited via their computer.  The patented technique provides enhanced monitoring and indexing capabilities, as well as a graphical interface to track, find and generate filtered results of documents based on search terms and other parameters established by the user, such as keywords, dates and names of selected applications.  The invention also delivers improved sorting of search results based on a predetermined profile of the user's interest.

U.S. Patent #7,634,461 was issued to inventors Tolga Oral of Arlington, Massachusetts; David Newbold of Cambridge, Massachusetts; Michael Bolin, of East Brunswick, NJ; and Raudel Rodriguez of Austin, Texas.


A conversation with IBM Fellow Laura Haas

In celebration of Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science, we took a moment to catch up with Laura Haas, IBM Fellow and director of computer science at IBM Research – Almaden about her career in information integration.


Inventors’ Corner U.S. Patent 7,631,161—An apparatus, system, and method for writing data to protected partitions of storage media

This patent describes an invention that enables data to be stored and protected on a variety of storage media--such as hard disk drives, DVDs, CDs, etc.--while ensuring that data protection commands remain unchanged, even if the storage media is moved or connected to a different host system.

The invention provides a technique to ensure that the integrity and security of data cannot be compromised, even if a storage device holding such critical data is transferred between systems.  With this approach, data is protected, no matter what system the storage device is connected to.  For example, when a disk drive is removed from a storage system, the data it holds retains the security protections established when it was stored on  the disk and cannot be overwritten, erased or altered by the new system.

U.S. Patent #7,631,161 was granted to inventors Nils Haustein, Martin Roosen, Daniel J. Winarski and Craig Anthony Klein.



On Helping Bloggers Overcome Writer’s Block

By Casey Dugan, Researcher, IBM Center for Social Software, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

At Lotusphere 2009, I heard from customers that their employees were reluctant to author blogs. Later in the year, we surveyed IBMers about this issue, and discovered that would-be bloggers often abandoned their blogs because they didn't know what their audiences wanted to read.

Because of this, Werner Geyer and I decided to create a tool to help increase blogger and reader interaction called the Blog Muse -- a tool that lets readers suggest topics for bloggers to write about.

By way of background, Werner and I are Researchers at IBM's Center for Social Software in Cambridge, MA working on projects such as SocialBlue, IBM's internal social networking tool (formerly Beehive). We've been interested in the area of recommendations, and in particular, engines that recommend content which users can create on social media sites -- such as questions they should answer on their SocialBlue profiles, or suggestions for expanding their social network.

Last year, we ran an experiment with Blog Muse that showed it was possible to increase the quality and popularity of blog posts by giving readers a greater stake in the topic-brainstorming process.

In preparing to build our prototype, we first looked into what was happening on IBM's Blog Central. We saw that some of the issues customers were mentioning could also be found inside IBM: only 3% of our employees have ever authored a personal blog entry. Further, it seemed that many of those who started blogging eventually abandoned it: 80% of personal blogs inside IBM have less than five entries. Other papers published about blogging externally and blogging inside companies show similar findings about abandonment and low participation by employees. Previous research on BlogCentral showed that while employee blogging has numerous benefits for individuals and the organization, only a small fraction of users can realize those benefits.

We then sent a survey out to 700 users of Blog Central, ranging from users who had never authored an entry to the most active bloggers in the company. We asked them questions about why they started blogging or had stopped, and whether they would be interested in getting recommendations of topics to write about. The more active bloggers were divided on receiving topic recommendations; some said they would welcome suggestions while others said they already had a surplus of topics to write about. One even went as far as saying: "This would be similar to writing paid reviews for consumer products."

However, this greatly contrasted what we heard from less active bloggers (such as those who had never written a blog entry, those who posted a single entry, or those who posted very occasionally). From these users we heard things such as:

- "In the beginning, I had no idea what to put on the blog"
- "Yes, I would absolutely use blogs more often if asked to give my feedback or to offer suggestions," and
- “If the interest number was high I would write on the subject of large scale interest. Instead of me building a following the following is prebuilt.”

Our survey helped us design Blog Muse. The topic suggestions we make to bloggers come from the "audience" -- or blog readers who are given a voice by being able to share with bloggers what they want to read about. From both our survey and previously published research, bloggers often complain that one reason they stop blogging is because of a lack of feedback from their audience. Few receive comments or ratings, there wasn't an indicator for readership; they didn't know if anyone was paying attention or finding value in what they were writing about! That is why we wanted to create a tighter link between bloggers and their audience, using Blog Muse.

The interaction cycle we envisioned, shown below, is that readers would share with bloggers topics they were interested in reading about. Our tool would then forward these requests to potential bloggers, and if any of these bloggers then wrote about the topic we would then notify the requesters. We also allowed users to vote on others' topics in order to gather large audiences together, all of whom wanted to read about the same thing, as we thought this would be an even greater incentive for bloggers to write about a given topic.

More results from our survey with blog users and their reactions to suggestions for topics to write about were published and presented at CSCW 2010 in February. The paper can be found here: http://www.research.ibm.com/social/papers/407n-geyer.pdf

So, we deployed Blog Muse in May 2009. It was built as an iWidget for the Lotus Connections homepage as well as a Firefox plugin to add Blog Muse features directly to Blog Central. A screenshot of the Blog Muse iWidget is shown below. We tracked the usage of our tool by over 1,000 IBMers and made a number of interesting findings. Our intuition that audience matters was correct: we found that users preferred topics requested by other users over those that had previously been written about & found that topics with votes were 6 times as likely to be written about than those without votes.

But, surprisingly, we did not see a significant increase in participation for writers! It seems that we couldn't get bloggers to blog more often by giving them topics to write about, which might indicate some displacement went on; in other words, bloggers wrote about topics we suggested rather than something else they were planning on writing about. Despite that, we were able to offer these bloggers something: more feedback and a tighter connection with their audience. We found that entries written through Blog Muse suggestions received twice as many comments, three times as many ratings, and more hits than others written on Blog Central during the same time period.

We published these results and they will be presented at CHI 2010 in April. You can read the paper with more of our findings here:



IBM, Stanford Unveil Green Chemistry Breakthrough

Scientists from IBM and Stanford University have unveiled discoveries that could lead to the development of new types of biodegradable, biocompatible plastics. The result of a multi-year research effort, the breakthrough also could lead to a new recycling process that has the potential to significantly increase the ability to recycle and reuse common PET and plant-based plastics in the future. Todays announcement may have sustainability implications across a wide range of industries including biodegradable plastics, plastics recycling, healthcare and microelectronics.

You can also read more about this on IBM's Smarter Planet blog.


IBM Endorses Patent Reform Legislation Compromise

IBM has endorsed the compromise on U.S. patent reform legislation announced by Senate leaders, saying that the first significant update to the nation's patent laws in more than 50 years will bolster American competitiveness in the global economy and help stimulate innovation.

"The leadership of Senators Leahy, Sessions and others has forged a compromise bill that works for all members of the intellectual property community and represents real progress on patent reform,” said Robert Weber, senior vice president, Legal and Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel, IBM.   “Modernizing the patent system, as outlined in this bill, will protect inventors and promote innovation."

S. 515 was initially adopted by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 15-4 bi-partisan vote last April.  IBM has long supported patent reform, and sees the substitute bill as striking a careful balance among various users of the U.S. patent system, while updating a system that has not kept pace with the dramatic changes in technology and innovation. IBM believes the time has come for Congress to act, and urges adoption of this legislation that will preserve American innovation leadership and spur economic growth.

As the top U.S. patent recipient each year for the last 17 years, IBM is the largest user of the U.S. Patent Office.


Data matters on a smarter planet

Data: it's the foundation of a smarter planet. We capture it, store it, analyze it, and make decisions based on it. And IBMers like Julia Grace, featured here, are at the heart of what we do. Behind her are thousands of IBM experts who are using the past to predict the future.

Read more at asmarterplanet.com.


Inventors' Corner: Inventing a Secure Planet

Cybersecurity is a top priority for federal, state, and local governments worldwide, and it is increasingly becoming a primary concern for critical infrastructure industries, such as utilities and telecommunications.

To help clients prepare for emerging cybersecurity challenges, IBM offers a wide range of security technologies and services developed to address the current and future state of security within their information infrastructure.

IBM draws upon it history of invention and innovation to provide this unique combination of technology, industry expertise and services needed to address the cybersecurity concerns and requirements of federal, state, and local governments worldwide.

Below is a sampling of the more than 3,000 patented IBM inventions that can enable clients to secure their business information and processes:

Method for implementing access control for queries to a content management systemU.S. Patent #7,392,246 – this invention describes a technique for implementing access control for queries to a content management system and method for maintaining security rules that limit document and folder access.

Security message authentication control instructionU.S. Patent #7,356,710 – this invention describes a method for using a cryptographic key to compute an authentication code that executes data storage of a computing environment.

System and method for authenticating and configuring computing devicesU.S. Patent #7,287,269 – this invention enables dynamic authentication of computers on a network to increase security.

Keyless encryption of messages using challenge responseU.S. Patent #6,535,980 – this invention provides a method of message encryption to allow secure transmission of data where data security is not available for some technical or legal reason.

Method and apparatus for storing an internet user's identity and access rights to world wide web resourcesU.S. Patent #6,005,939 – this invention provides a method for securely obtaining and storing user information to conduct secure transactions on the Internet , without having to re-enter the information multiple times

Method and system for protection of digital informationU.S. Patent #5,978,482 – this invention describes a technique used to secure digital information through encryption and decryption in a way that it will only be available to those who have paid for the right to access it.

More information about IBM’s cross-company security initiative is available at: http://www.ibm.com/federal/security