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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Project: Cattail: Person-Centric Sharing for IBMers

Researcher: Jonathan Feinberg

Cattail is a web site where IBMers can upload files and share them with their colleagues. It was designed to provide significant advantages over email when doing "ad-hoc" sharing of files. When you share a file with someone, Cattail sends the recipient an email. If you upload a new version of a given file, Cattail will inform all of the past recipients of a file that a new version is available for upload.

Cattail provides a dashboard view of recent activity around your files and those of your colleagues. Each file has a permanent “home page” on Cattail, where people can view a thumbnail of supported file types (images, PDFs, Powerpoint decks, Word documents, et al.), leave comments, download the file, and share it with interested parties. You can also see who has downloaded the file, and who has added it to their named collections of interesting files. The URL of this home page never changes, even when you’ve uploaded a new version.

Any file that’s public, or that has been shared with you explicitly, can be found via full-text search.

Jonathan Feinberg,, designed and implemented Cattail.
David R. Millen,, manages Jonathan’s group within Collaborative User Experience.
Charlie Hill,, is a Distinguished Engineer, and the mentor for the Cattail project.