Yahoo &

Happy Friday! I’m really pleased to write that Yahoo closed an acquisition of the social bookmarking service Congratulations to everyone involved in making this happen. Along with the earlier acquisitions of and flickr, Yahoo is well on it’s way to bringing the best of the new web to the masses.

For more details from Yahoo, see the Search Blog entry by Jeremy and for the take from, read Joshua’s post, y.ah.oo! Even the investor posts some happiness.

There are lots of questions as to what Yahoo is going to do with this service, some more obvious than others. I like to think that the social tagging aspect of the service will serve to inform the Yahoo service on what’s important and one up our neighbors up the road. Earlier this week, Bradley Horowitz, a Director in the Search team, was interviewed by the Financial Times and spoke about how the Page Rank algorithm gives too much influence to the webmasters:

But, as Mr Horowitz points out, the hierarchy is decided by webmasters, the controllers of website content: “The webmasters get to vote by proxy on what’s important to all of us; they cast everyone’s vote, so we are slaves to the webmaster’s idea of what is important.”

He goes on: “This next phase of personal and social search means that we will empower individuals with the privilege of voting on what’s important for them and expose that so communities and social networks and other groups can leverage that information. The intention is to base social search on open standards in order to spread its influence beyond the Yahoo environment.

– from Free the Slaves from the Webmasters

Grand product plans aside, based on the buzz on the internets, bringing into the fold sure makes us look good.

Current Events

Rocketboom now available on Tivo

Rocketboom, the daily video newscast is now available for download to your broadband connected Tivo.

We differ from a regular TV program in many important ways. Instead of costing millions of dollars to produce, Rocketboom is created with a consumer-level video camera, a laptop, two lights and a map with no additional overhead or costs.

Podcasting News

It’s also distributed via RSS and does a complete end run around traditional network and cable distribution channels. Subscribe today for your first taste of citizen media in the living room.

Current Events

rsstroom reader – toilet paper printer

  • wireless connectivity
  • rss 2.0 & atom compatible
  • random mode
  • bio-metric user identification

commercial model allows advertisers to place customized messages targeted to a specific audience through Yi Tien Electronics’ online subscription service.


Vertigo on the flatscreen

We all got a kick out of Google’s satellite view and enjoyed zooming around with Google Earth. This week Microsoft launches their service with it’s cool Bird’s Eye views of landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge.

But if you really want to knock your socks off, you have got to try Big Eye in the Sky Quicktime VR site. Photographer Ed Fink has taken 360 degree views from a helicopter and the results are stunning.

Current Events

Origins of the “TiVo” moniker

The winning answer was we were naming the next TV. I thought it should be as close as possible to what people would find familiar so it must contain T and V. I started looking at letter combinations and pretty quickly settled on TiVo. I also liked that “i” and “o” were a part of the name from the “in and out” engineering acronym. Additionally I thought “vo” had a nice connection to “vox” and “voce” from the latin for vocal sound and Italian for voice, vote and vow are part of the same root words. In a way, every selection one makes with TiVo is a kind of vote. It was all beginning to make some sense. We created a beginning lexicon of TiVo expressions to help create what we anticipated would be a TiVo culture. One of the expressions was “TiVolution”. I liked the similarity of sound to the rock band DEVO and their devolution stance.

Seven Questions with Michael Cronan, designer and creator of the name “Tivo” and the mascot

Innovation Creators & Enterprise Digging

Rod Boothby has been hard at work beating the corporate blogging drum where he works and part of his process has been to externalize his thinking on a blog set up specifically to generate awareness and test his ideas.

He’s thought long and hard about not only the benefits of creating a blogging culture at a company, he also has gone into quite a bit of detail on different approaches and sprinkled it with thinking about the cultural implications as well.

Rod’s been posting regularly since October and I would encourage anyone that is thinking about corporate blogging to subscribe to his feed. Here are some highlights from the past few months:

But my all time favorite innovation here is Rod’s concept of Enterprise Digg. The social bookmarking service blew onto the scene much like Slashdot in that important stories are submitted to the service by its members and then subsequent users “digg” the stories throughout the day. I became aware of from their diggnation podcast in which the founders of the service recount the past week’s top diggs over a few tins of their favorite beer.

Apply the social bookmarking aspect of to the enterprise and you have a service that serves many requirements that Rod alludes to in earlier posts. A social bookmarking service in which popular posts bubble up to the top is:

1. Social – collective linking behind the firewall gets everyone tuned into the news of the day without interruptive chatter.

2. Rewarding – if someone continually submits links that bubble up to the top, they will be recognized for their innovative vision and alignment with the interests of the company’s employees.

3. Fun – not to be forgotten, there’s a certain thrill at being the first to discover something no one else has seen. It’s the, “be the first on your block” syndrome applied to corporate culture.

4. Efficient – if you slice off the top 5% of diggs to the system, you very quickly filter out the noise and get to the most important opportunities and threats that face your company. No more email blasts from the CEO, no more soul searching corporate surveys, no more breakout session SWOT analysis flip charts. Set up a bookmarklet on your browser toolbar and bag-n-tag sites while you work and go back and review the aggregate on a monthly basis.

But why stop there. The only thing missing is that there needs to be a financial incentive to really drive this engine. Put some skin in the game and reward the top diggers, the people with the most votes on their pages.

Let’s take it a step further and have folks buy and sell shares in the top ideas. We had this issue every year in a company where I used to work. Every year all the open projects were gathered together for review and were matched against resources and over a painful 72 hour period, the project plans for the next 12 months were laid out and locked into place. It was increadibly frustrating for the project managers and stressful and highly political for those making the decision.

Why not pull out top ideas into a pool in which employees can place a portion of their virtual portfolio onto certain ideas. When those ideas get promoted into production there is an initial payout (as in an IPO) and as the profitability of the feature is measured over time, the payout would continue to pay dividends. This payout would act as a proxy for real money in order to base it in reality and, just as with the real world stock market, Product Manager and Senior Management would be restricted from the amount of trading they can do because of a conflict of interest.

Take a look at the Buzz Game on Yahoo! Research – we’re working with O’Reilly to use predictive markets to do just that.


How do you define “Social Media”

I joined Havi Hoffman (a Social Media partner in crime here at Yahoo) and Stowe Boyd for coffee in Palo Alto this morning and asked Stowe if he would come up with a two line definition of “social media.” He took a shot at it and came up with a good working definition that I look forward to seeing polished over the next few days.

Social Media are those forms of publishing that are based on a dynamic interaction, a conversation, between the author and active readers, in contrast with traditional broadcast media where the ‘audience’ is a passive ‘consumer’ of ‘content’. The annotations or social gestures left behind by active readers, such as comments, tags, bookmarks, and trackbacks, create an elaborate topology resting on the foundational blog posts, and this enhanced meta-environment, the blogosphere, is the context for and the realization of a global collaboration to make sense of the world and our place in it.

I especially liked Stowe’s phrase, “social gestures” that he uses to describe the artifacts of the tools that are used to create social media. I would only suggest expanding this to include things like the aggregate votes of users on ratings and review sites because the collective vote on something is also a form of “user-generated content.”

What I really like is the phrase, “making sense of the world and our place in it” because it gets to the greater philosophical question of how your content on the web defines who you are. If it’s cogito ergo sum in the physical world, it follows in the digital world that you are defined and understood by the sum total of everything you contribute to the web. Our collective voice on a subject or theme is going to be the digital representation of our world’s understanding of that topic.

UPDATE: An alternative definition that I learned at ad:tech. Social Media is, “communication and media that doesn’t require interruption.” In other words, media that is used as part of a conversation between two people, media that is personal and relevant to the conversation, not ancillary.


Stowe ain’t no pigeon

Anyone who follows more than a couple of feeds in their reader has had this problem. Bolded numbers in brackets blinking back at you you, telling you how many articles you need to scan to stay current – do you click “read all” and be done with it? What if you miss something? How do you know what’s important when RSS normalizes everything to look the same?

Stowe Boyd of Corante points out how he feels,

I don’t like the Pez dispenser feel, where all posts are like another, and you assume the role of a pigeon in a Skinner box, hitting the button to make the pellets roll out.

RSS Readering: Why RSS Readers Are No Good For Me (And You, Too, I Bet)

Stowe not only gets the perfect analogy, he goes one better in his post and lays down a challenge for RSS readers to do better with some suggestions for improvement which I think make sense.

I think that’s the attraction of Memeorandum – we’re usually lazy and want to give over control to someone else to sort out the top news of the day. In Memorandum if a story is really talked about, it’ll remain the top story all day, there’s no worry in missing that one post, it’ll remain pegged up there until you’re ready for it. Reading your feeds (forgive me, I’m going to take a shot at my own analogy) should be more like taking in an expansive view of the landscape and not like weeding a garden. As Yahoo continues to think about how best to bring RSS to the masses, this is something we continue to think about.


Our Italian Daughter

I think she’s been watching that character Kramer on Seinfeld too much.


Yahoo Services on Tivo

USA Today’s got the story, and Zatz Not Funny has screenshots. I’ll have to try this when I get home.

People who create free accounts with Yahoo will be able to use its
Yahoo Photos service. They can use their TVs to view photos that
friends or family have put online. Also, Yahoo will provide local
weather forecasts and traffic reports.

It looks like they also put a podcasting client in there. I wonder if this means that I’ll be able to view the Diggnation Thanksgiving Special (available in audio or video) on my Tivo?

UPDATE: I logged into my Tivo account and see that the service has not been rolled out yet. To get on the priority list, enter your Tivo Account number from this page.