When we talk about companies sculpting the Internet into an ever more useful social tool, we are usually talking about the latest startup to get snapped up by Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) or eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY). But a defense contractor? It turns out that Honeywell (NYSE:HON) is right there on the bleeding edge.

We have written about social bookmarking severaltimes since Yahoo! scooped up del.icio.us in late 2005. Social bookmarking involves the pooling of community knowledge to organize information. It fuels our very own Motley Fool CAPS system, enabling players to "tag" stocks with various identifiers, helping to improve search results for everyone else. If I were writing a piece on companies from Ohio, for example, I could search under that tag and find more than a dozen firms that our users have tagged "Ohio."

Honeywell has become one of the first large companies to try out social bookmarking within its organization's intranet. Using software from startup Connectbeam, Honeywell employees can bookmark and tag documents, see which other users tried similar searches, and create knowledge groups through social networking. Thinking about my own frustrating experiences as a cubicle dweller, I can see this approach clearing up a lot of problems with information flow. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Enterprise Search doesn't go nearly this far.

We have also discussed another Internet phenomenon, Second Life, on multipleoccasions. Second Life takes social networking into a 3-D virtual space. The economy within that virtual world is booming. A college buddy of mine works for a real-life company that creates and sells Second Life content.

Honeywell is not quite as pioneering in this space. Plenty of companies, ranging from NBC Universal to Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) to Sears Holdings (NYSE:SHLD), have a presence in the Second Life "metaverse." Honeywell's presence has yet to go live. On his blog yesterday, a VP of customer and product support mentioned steps the aerospace division is taking to introduce virtual customer training.

Honeywell won't be the first to go this route, but to me, it speaks well to the company's innovative spirit. This has nothing to do with being "cool" -- these are engineers, after all. Rather, it's all about creating value for customers. If I had a Second Life avatar, I would doff my virtual hat to them.

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Fool contributor Toby Shute went to college with lots of engineers, and he kids because he loves. He doesn't own shares in any company mentioned. Yahoo! and eBay are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Dell is a Stock Advisor and Inside Value recommendation. There's nothing virtual about the Motley Fool's disclosure policy.