I was hoping to just let the dust settle a bit before choosing to post but then I was reminded that my last post on weird Japanese exercise devices seems to be an odd welcome to anyone looking for a perspective on the latest hullabaloo from someone focused on social media projects at Yahoo.
Early yesterday morning, I posted my befuddlement on an internal mailing list. An active discussion followed and many agreed that the quote seemed strangely out of character. Anyone who has heard our CFO speak knows that giving up the good fight is totally at odds with the Sue Decker we know.
Yahoo’s been in the business of connecting people to what they want for ten years and have gone from being a simple directory of useful links to a full suite of services that range from Fantasy Sports to Web Hosting. Not only is Yahoo testing innovative and experimental ways to search, we also provide you with answers. We’re hiring some of the best minds to think long and hard about not only what the next generation search engine will be but, more importantly, what the next generation of the internet will look like. Hint: it’s not just on your PC anymore.
One of the reasons I joined Yahoo is because I saw that they was a vision for an internet which kept people in the center. Powerful tools married to funny and sometimes irreverent design choices. You could read the documentation and see that it was written by a person. It was good to know there was a news desk deciding which ten headlines to put on www.yahoo.com. When your IM client actually laughs at you, it was refreshingly goofy.
Back to the title of this post – we still have a long way to go. Sure, we all are working feverishly on search but I think the context that was missed in the Sue Decker quote was that there is so much more to do around search that is equally interesting and important. The more people I meet at Yahoo, the more I am amazed at the energy and enthusiasm for this next phase. You can see the pieces coming together – tagging, social networks, user ratings & recommendations, geographic and temporal identifiers, developer outreach, RSS in and out – everyone here is sucking it all in and amped up in anticipation of how great it’s going to be to build the stuff we only dreamed about in the past. Trust me, there’s some real cool stuff coming down the pike.
One of the great things in my job is that I get to talk to people across the company, in many different business units and regions. The excitement over social media and how open interaction with our users can infuse our products with relevance and humanity is not limited to just one department – every Product Manager is thinking through the possiblilities of what the new people-powered internet will look like and is hard at work putting these ideas to work. Yesterday, there was a mini-trade show of sorts where one group was showcasing all the great platform tools they are building and were showing them off to anyone interested just to get folks thinking how these services could play with each other. It was great to listen in on some of the hallway conversations taking place – new services being born every minute.
Yahoo has only just begun but the pieces are coming together and, as the title of this blog suggests, there’s going to be an arc that will flash two experiences together (search & community) to create a new online experience that will be a quantum leap ahead of what we have today. This new environment will have us looking back at the days of keyword searching as quaintly as we now look back to the blinking C:\> prompt of old.