It would be a stretch to say that Aristotle might have foreseen the rise of Facebook and similar sites when he observed that humans are, by nature, social animals. He did, however, clearly understand the basic impulse underlying our 21st-century digital networking culture. As philosophers, social scientists, psychologists, and other thinkers have noted through the ages, much of our satisfaction in life arises in the context of our relationships with other people.
What’s the connection between Aristotle and Atlas? Both recognize the fundamental impact social relations have on personal satisfaction. One of the central objectives of Atlas, from its inception, has been to continually improve work life satisfaction at MIT by simplifying and enhancing systems and processes, including those for connecting with colleagues. That’s why the July 2014 release incorporated a vastly improved people search among many upgrades to the user experience.
Have we met?
While the new people search brought significant advances like accessing MIT’s directory within the Atlas domain and unlimited lookups per session, it lacked a key component of a truly social environment—photo portraits. As Kevin Lyons, IS&T Enterprise Architect notes, “From the moment we introduced the new search tool last July, people were saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if MIT’s directory included faces to go along with the names and titles?’”
The advantages are clear. When you use the people directory to confirm contact information for someone you know, a personal photo provides one more piece of information that enables you to confirm you’ve found the right person. If you are preparing to meet with a colleague for the first time, you have a visual introduction to simplify recognition.
Your personal/professional space
“Thanks to the prevalence of social media,” says Lyons, “most of us are comfortable with the idea of having our photos online. But there are some important concerns that have to be accounted for in the workplace.” Chief among these considerations is privacy, which is why there is no requirement to personalize your Atlas homepage with a photo.
If you decide to opt in, the process will be simple and familiar. Next to the people search on your Atlas home page, you’ll see an alert that the photo upload tool is now available. Clicking on the tool will give you the ability to select a photo from your files to post to the site. Your photo will appear as a personal icon on your home page.
“At that point,” Lyons says, “your photo will become part of your Atlas profile and thus available in the Atlas People Search.” Lyons also notes that guidelines like posting only a recent, shoulders-up photo will keep it appropriate to the environment. “We’re excited about this feature. It’s another opportunity to personalize your Atlas experience and to put your best foot forward.”
Stay tuned to this page in coming weeks for more news about the December 2014 release of Atlas!