Sea Serpents spotted off the Calfornia Coast!

Well everyone was so excited about the hidden Yahoo yodel on the home page that I just had to tell you about the discovery of sea monsters three miles due West of the Golden Gate bridge.

Thanks to Yahoo! Cool Thing of the Day for this one. Your daily dose of straight talk from your friendly Yahoo engineers who love to write about all the cool stuff they’re doing behind the scenes to make your life better.


flickr images in space and time

I was going to hold off on the Yay! Yay! Yahoo! posts for awhile after such a long string of them but then flickr took it’s wraps off it’s maps integration and I couldn’t resist. If you haven’t had a chance to play around with this, check it out. From your flickr account you can now Organize photos on a new Map tab. True to form, it’s all drag and drop and you can also set permissions because everything you drag onto the map will be thrown into the general collection of photos that everyone else drags onto the table. Look at the image above and to the right – this feature was launched only this afternoon and there are already over 15,000 (as of 11pm tonight) images polka-dotting the San Francisco peninsula! also adding flickr integration today with a handy-dandy tag generator for each upcoming event (they also pushed out a number of other changes which spiff up the site quite nicely). How many times have you been to one of those “well-documented” events where it seems like the people are more interested in moblogging each other than actually speaking (maybe this is just a Bay Area thing). At some point, someone gets the bright idea that it would be great to have everyone tag their collective photos so they can be pulled together under one URL. The recent TechCrunch/August Capital bash generated a ton of photos that were all looped under the techcrunch7 tag which was whispered from photographer to photographer as the evening went on. Now Upcoming resolves the doubt and debate and generates a tag for you right on the calendar entry for the event later crawling flickr to look for that tag to integrate thumbnails of your photos right onto the event page (see image above).

In one brilliant stroke we have a community of images in space (maps) and time (upcoming). I think it’s safe to say that we are living in one of the best documented ages ever. Archeologists of the future are going to have more than enough material to work with but I wonder what they’ll think about this sudden explosion of images in the early 2000’s – what caused this sudden impulse to re-interpret the world around us and categorize and share everything?

UPDATE: after only 24 hours Stewart writes that over 1.2 million photos have been geo-tagged. Never under-estimate the human desire to put things in their place!


Open Yahoo Hack Day

There is another Yahoo Hack Day for Yahoo staff coming up next month. Last time was a blast and our hack continues to live on with a recent mention in BusinessWeek. I fully intend to participate and am already thinking about a few ideas but am even more psyched that we’re opening things up to the public for an open Hack Day on September 29th.

Rather than keep all the fun to ourselves, we decided to let the unwashed masses come in and try their hand at stitching something cool together at our first public Yahoo Hack Day. This is what it’s all about – why limit creativity to just a pool of 10,000?

If you think you have a better way of doing things, right on! Come over to the Yahoo headquarters in Sunnyvale on September 29th and show us the future as you would define it. Give something back, bank some karma and make them internets that much kinder & gentler.

Developer workshop on Friday followed by 24 hours of hacking capped with demos MC’d by Mike Arrington of TechCrunch and then a blowout, Yahoo-style pah-tey! For details and a sign up (hurry! space limited!) go to Should be a blast.

PS. If you can’t get past the “cyphertext” on, let’s just say that’s our first intelligence test.


Adam Greenfield’s Everyware Principles

everyware.jpgWhat will the world be like when everything you own is networked? What if the floor on which you walked, the clothes on your back, your razor, and even in your toilet could not only talk to each other but also could share information with your friend’s devices and other devices and sensors connected to the cloud? What kind of design principles are important in this new world where interfaces melt away and you no longer have a keyboard & mouse and motions such as the unconscious wipe of your nose on a sleeve is a gesture that sets of a series of transactions in your wired jacket?

Adam Greenfield, a big thinker about design concepts in a world of “ubiquitous computing” where networked devices will be everywhere came to speak at Yahoo on Friday. While the talk was full of interesting tidbits (did you know that IPv6 will provide us with enough new IP addresses to network every grain of sand?) he ended his presentation with a list of design principles for this new reality which is rapidly approaching which are worth repeating. The principles are his, the interpretation mine:

1. Default to Harmlessness – in a world where it is possible for a device to broadcast your most intimate details, one must be sensitive to to these risks in the context of the culture in which the device operates. He went on to talk about the example of the Japanese escalator which chimes in warnings upon approach (“the entrance to the escalator is here, take care upon alighting on the escalator”), upon riding the escalator, (“grab hold of the handrail at all times, if you have children with you, take care to hold their hands to make sure they do not fall”), upon approach to the top (“the end of the escalator is near, get ready and take care when getting off”) and then, if you’re going up the zig-zag of a department store, all over again, (” the entreance to the escalator is here. . . “). You get the picture, risk is relative. One culture’s blanket of motherly concern comes off as smothering, nagging nitwit in another culture.

2. Be Self-Disclosing – ubiquitous systems should be technically and physically self-disclosing. Adam shared a few icons he worked on with his wife that could help indicate to the viewer the type of device they are interacting with and what information about them will be shared. One only hopes that the TSA would do this with the new RFID US passports.

3. Be Conservative of Face – ubiquitous systems must not unnecessarily embarass, humiliate, or shame their users. Although Adam didn’t mention this, my favorite example of this is the, “oh, I can’t, I’m away today” excuse that someone would use to avoid a lunch or other social engagement. With geo-sensing devices that publish your location, these would be impossible. Networked devices need to be fuzzy enough to maintain the, “masks of plausible deniability” that are the lubricant of any society.

4. Be Conservative of Time – basically don’t waste the user’s time. If the interface adds extra steps that do not add to the experience or re-assert themselves unnecessarily (too many OK/Cancel buttons), they should be removed.

5. Be Deniable – you should be able to opt out of using any of these devices without suffering any inconvenience. Adam feels this one is the most important principle but unfortunately one which has most likely already been broken. The consequences of living outside the world of networked devices is less convenience. Try to leave your FasTrak transmitter at home and see what happens to your commute time when you need to wait to pay your tolls in cash.

Food for thought and one that makes me realize that despite all the talk about the next-generation web, the keyboard/mouse/lcd is really quite a crude interface for the intermediation of experience.


Yahoo Publisher Network

As a blogger and old school web publisher (Tokyo Q, one of my first efforts, is now enjoying its 10th year of service), I love to talk about tools that help publishers take advantage of the internet as a delivery channel. Coming up on my first anniversary at the big Y, I am now putting my back to a project that I believe will have a huge impact on Yahoo’s partnership with online publishers. As Product Manager of the Yahoo Publisher Network, I hope to create a place where everyone from the casual blogger looking for extra widgets to the online editor of a major media site can come learn about and manage everything Yahoo has to offer to support their craft.

I enjoy working with a team towards the common goal of putting out a product that is used by people around the world and look forward to doing this with the YPN team. I’ll be working with Cody Simms who I met during my first week at Yahoo and see as a kindred spirit in the quest to get the word out about all the cool things Yahoo does. I am also looking forward to working with folks like David Zito, Andrew Negrin, John Lindal, and a host of other really talented developers. It’s rare that you have a developer team as fired up about a project as the Product Manager and it’s clear I’m going to have to work hard to keep up with them.

I will be spending time at the Yahoo Burbank offices learning about the advertising side of the business. All the systems that power the ads that run next to the Yahoo Search results and on partner sites across the web are optimized to serve not only the user, but also the web site publisher and advertiser. Balancing the needs of each of these parties is an art, especially in these times when the proverbial invisible hand is trying to figure out where to push.

I admire the work the Yahoo Developer Network has done to document various Yahoo APIs and UI libraries for the developer community. Chad Dickerson and those before him have done great work in turning Yahoo inside out and embracing a new world which now extends beyond the domain.

I hope to bring this same collaborative spirit YPN. Provide tools that make it easy. Push the technical hassle into the background, let the publisher focus on their readership, building an audience, matching products and services to that audience. It’s not hard to stitch two web services together to make a compelling mashup, we need this same ease of use and community for online publishers.

A few of us spent a morning last Friday walking about 30 Yahoo employees through setting up and accessorizing their blogs. Everybody got up and running but there is still a huge opportunity to make it easier and more integrated. Building a readership is hard enough, the tools and utilities to support your readers need to be easy to integrate. The individual pieces are in place, we just need to put them into a package and create a home where a community of publishers can learn from and help each other succeed. Wish me luck!

Cellphone Banner Ads – interesting data

The average price for a four- to eight-week-long banner ad campaign on a content provider’s wireless Web site is now $75,000 to $150,000, up from $25,000 to $50,000 last year. About 3% to 5% of phone users click on banner ads on their screens — higher than the 1% click rate of computer users, says Jeff Janer, chief operating officer of Third Screen Media.

– from today’s WSJ story, Coming Soon to Cellphone Screens — More Ads Than Ever


I don’t know why but I just can’t stop

Shhhhh! It’s a sekret!

Go to (oooh & ahhh over the new design if you haven’t seen it), mouse over the "!" on the logo and click.

Hours of fun. Really. 




Dressing up your avatar for the show

avatar.jpgIt’s Friday so why not dress up your avatar for the weekend? Yahoo & Wal-Mart are sponsoring a fashion contest. Submit your avatar and the community votes on their favorite. Over 17,000 people have submitted their avatars so far so they’re plenty of inspiration for the fashion-challenged (like yours truely).

The Yahoo! Avatar Fashion Show


What I learned about Direct Marketing

I had two hours to spare yesterday to make it over to SES just down the road from my office. I was not able to attend any of the sessions so I did a quick loop ’round the trade show floor, met a few folks (including the guy on the left who was looking for a Treo charger), and then skipped out the door to head back to meetings.

On the way out the door, I grabbed a copy of Direct, a trade mag for Direct Marketers. Reading it over lunch today. Here’s what I learned:

1. Your HTML emails going to gmail accounts may be working against you. Not only will gmail block graphics, Google crawls the text & meta data on your email and will serve up text ads that may send your readers on your list to your competition. Bonus Exercise: Check out the ads that get served up next to messages in your Gmail Spam folder for some spam on spam action.

2. Pop up ads are even more hated than door-to-door salesman.

3. Incentivizing new orders with a Click-Per-Action (CPA) campaign could prevent you from ever communicating to your customers via email again.

4. It costs $195/M (I think that’s for 1,000) for names of MacWorld readers who have iPods. The total size of the list is almost 40k so you can buy the lot for cool $7,800.

Survey : Employer Trust & Hardware

Monica Whitty, a professor at Queen’s University in Belfast, is conducting research on the amount of control employees have over their work computers and if it varies by country. She’s trying to get 1,000 responses in time for a paper she wants to publish by the end of the year. It takes about 5 minutes, please fill out her online survey. Filling it out prompted me to start up a virus scan just for good measure.

The purpose of this study is to ascertain how individuals in different countries use their work computers and/or laptop computers. It also asks how they protect their work computers and/or laptops from security risks.

I’m looking for individuals 18 years or over and currently live and work (full time/part time or casually) in Australia, the Netherlands, Singapore, the UK, or USA, you are invited to fill out this survey. Only people who use a computer and/or laptop at work are invited to complete this survey (although you don’t need to use one regularly).

A summary of the results will be published from about November 2006 – December 2006 on my website.