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Izumi’s Excellent Day

Izumi just told me three stories that were just too funny not to share:

The Afghans in the Locker Room

We’ve been going to this gym on the other end of the island and Zoomer’s told me a few times about these two rather Rubenesque women in the sauna that always seem to be drying their laundry or something. She could never figure it out and didn’t even recognize the language they were speaking – they always sounded angry and one of them would give her dirty stairs. Today she was at the gym and again, they were in the sauna, taking up most of the space with all their clothes again.

But today, one of them reached out to Izumi. She smiled and tried, in broken and rough sounding English, to communicate. She explained that she was from Afghanistan where, at 14 she married and proceeded to give birth to six children. "Boom, Boom, Boom" she said slapping her palms demonstratively. Pounding her chest she proclaimed, "Now, am 55 – it’s over! No more children! Zvittt!" she said while demonstrating that she got her tubes tied to shut down the factory.

Tyler and the Autistics

Tyler seems to gravitate towards autistic kids. He’s compelled by how much they can teach him. This year there is one child who is just mildly autistic and Tyler has been hanging out with him learning all sorts of things. Today, Tyler came up to Izumi and was kind of in awe of this kid. "J. knows so much! He knows about the weather and stuff, he’s going to be a scientist for sure!" Neither Izumi nor I knew that J. was autistic so Izumi shared this compliment with J.’s mother who was so happy to hear that a classmate of her child could see past his handicap and find what’s special in her child. Funny thing is, it seems like all the mothers know that J. was autistic and I guess the kids clued in on it too and kind of gave J. a wide bearth. Tyler was just fascinated and would hang out with him and J.’s mother really was touched. It’s nice to know that your kid doesn’t even have a negative bone in his body and can seek out the good and special in someone and hold it up and celebrate it.

Julia 4 a Day

Yesterday was Julia’s 4th birthday. It was really special for her as I think she actually soaked in the significance of it and basked in the little extra things that were showered on her all day. She came home from school proudly wearing a paper crown her pre-school teacher had made for her – she was on Cloud Nine and went to bed happy. When she woke up this morning, longing for happiness of the day before, she asked when she could be four again. When Izumi told her that she’s going to be four for the next 12 months and flipped though the calendar to show her how long that is, Julia’s eyes popped open, "Wow! I get to be four for the whole year!"

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Office

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. . .

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.