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IBM hosting podcast on IM, blog tips

Big Blue starts up a weekly podcast in which in-house experts answer listeners' questions about e-mail, IM, blogs.

When K.C. from Boston wanted to know whether his instant-message conversations, especially those at work, were confidential, he turned to an unexpected source for the answer: IBM.

That's because Big Blue has recently started a podcast, called ShortCuts, intended specifically to give people a way to get answers to common questions about e-mail, instant messaging, blogs and other online tools.

The show, hosted by Ben Edwards, head of new media communications for IBM, and Jennifer Clemente, a spokeswoman in the company's software group communications, comes on the heels of the successful "IBM and the future of..." podcast.

But while that podcast was about business technology, ShortCuts is all about giving individuals answers to their questions about how to use personal technology.

"IBM and especially its end-user facing brand Lotus (have) a lot of expertise to offer everyday computer users," Clemente said. We "felt a short, four-minute weekly show would be a good format to harness."

From the company's perspective, ShortCuts gives IBM an opportunity to showcase its position at the forefront of corporate podcasting, Clemente said, adding that the company experimented last year with an internal podcast intended to connect the company and it clients and partners.

Clemente said the podcast is a sign of Big Blue's intent to have its employees showcase social-networking software and other Web 2.0 technologies.

For now, IBM is hoping the word about ShortCuts will spread virally, though it is available through the iTunes Music Store. But in an attempt to make the show feel like a genuine service rather than advertisement, the only real mentions of IBM are in the show's introduction.