Launching Products, MyBlogLog style

Sampsons at Sansome

(from left, Manny Miller, John Sampson, Todd Sampson, and Saurabh Sahni)

Yesterday was one of the more exciting days of my time here at Yahoo, and I wasn’t even in the office.  MyBlogLog shipped a significant new feature which required the whole team to knuckle down and work as one. We hate to ship new code on Fridays so yesterday was the deadline to get something done before Todd & I head out to a week and a half of conferences.

While activity levels were high all week, they really broke into a sprint at 9pm when we all logged on after dinner to quash out our final bugs.  I think at one point I had four or five different browser engines running (Firefox, IE, Safari, and even Flock) and next to my Windows PC I was also testing things on my wife’s MacBook.

There was a group chat with all of us on it and, as we ran across things, I would throw them into the chat window to get resolved. A couple of us had other testers out there and they were in other tabs on our IM client so we would throw things between the tabs, channeling the excitement of others too as we sensed we were getting closer to launch.I wish I had saved a log from the running chat session because if you could read it, you would plainly see how closely tuned everyone on the team is to each others style.

It was like a written version of the dance you see that goes on in the kitchen of a very busy restaurant. Everyone is running around but knows exactly where everyone else is, what they are doing and when it needs to come together.  Later in the evening, folks from the Bangalore team logged on and joined the fray. Distance didn’t matter – they were right there with us.

I’m privileged to work with such a great team of talented people and am constantly bowled over by what they can do when they put their mind to it. We’re on a roll folks. There’s even more cool stuff on its way!

Current Events

Positive Interference

Snowball Rolling Down Snowbank by Rob Casey

Yesterday I commented on Jeremy Zawodny’s blog on a fundamental difference I see between Plaxo Pulse, FriendFeed and MyBlogLog and I wanted to expand a bit further here in the name of thinking out loud and getting a sense of what others think.

As I announced on the MyBlogLog blog a couple of weeks ago, we are getting close to releasing a feature which publishes an aggregated view of all your updates from services such as flickr,, YouTube, twitter, and others. This aggregated event stream has been called a number of things (vitality feed, activity stream, lifestream, mini-feed) but we’re simply calling it New with Me.

As more sites add this feature, there seems to be two approaches to what to do with this data. One the one hand you have sites like Wink and Profilactic which simply pull in updates and republish them. MyBlogLog’s approach is like this. On the other, you have sites such as Plaxo Pulse and FriendFeed which are hosting specific actions such as adding comments around the content aggregated on their sites.

The question is, what is the value of hosting comments on a site that is removed from the place that generated the content? If I’m feeding my updates to a site such as Pulse or FriendFeed, I would rather be able to keep the conversation threads all together on my site or at least tie them together with something like a trackback to pull in threads if the discussion jumps over to another venue. The way Pulse and FriendFeed are built, your readers can never know what additional discussion is taking place which makes it an open loop of dis-jointed conversations that may never come together.

Bret Taylor from FriendFeed responded with a perspective that shed light on his perspective which didn’t occur to me. In his response to my comment on Jeremy’s post, Bret says that FriendFeed is less a distribution platform but more, “a forum for private discussion with people you know.” But why break off what likely to be the most thoughtful commentary and keep it from the others that might benefit from it if they are not your friend?

I look for inspiration from a broad variety of sources and thrive on the serendipity of unintended consequences. This morning I was listening to a podcast because there was a mention of a term I follow that dropped it into one of my tracking feeds. In it, Jeff Schmidt, a bassist that is also quite thoughtful on the latest social media technologies threw out a line that struck me.

I love being open to the possibility of positive interference.

That describes what I most love about the online world in which we live. The way that someone halfway around the world can stumble into your world and zap you with a turn of phrase that crystallizes a new way of looking at things. This happens best in a world where comments are open and thoughts are shared together in a way that everyone benefits. It’s all about Doc Searls’ Snowball.

Bret and I are on a panel together next week at the Graphing Social Patterns conference in San Diego and I really look forward to learning more what others think. It should be a fascinating discussion!

Lawrence Lessig and Change Congress

Lessig on Change Congress

Exciting times. Show your support at

Ottoman Empire and California State Taxes

Quicken Turbo Tax and the Ottoman Empire

The screenshot above is taken from my 2007 version of Quicken Turbo Tax. What does the Ottoman Empire have to do with California state taxes and Michael Jackson’s lawyer, Mark Geragos? Read on.


Hard at Work and Shipping Again!

MyBlogLog Recent Reader widget
A quick note to let folks know that the MyBlogLog team made it through the staff reductions at Yahoo intact. Heads down is a common expression around here and it’s apt because we’ve been hammer and tongs on getting things built that we’ve been thinking about for a long time. It’s great to be shipping again!So far, our About Me widget has been getting rave reviews. We also have an API that’s in beta and spinning off some really interesting applications. Finally, yesterday we’ve got our updated Recent Reader widget into the wild and that’s getting great reviews. Congrats to the entire MyBlogLog team, especially Manny Miller who’s been in the weeds with the widget code from the start.

We’ve got more up our sleeves and I’m looking forward to meeting folks at Graphing Social Patterns, eTech, and South by Southwest to talk about it.


Tuesday is MyBlogLog night

There’s not enough MyBlogLog to go around! I’m speaking up in San Francisco at a NetSquared event about building non-profit communities on the cheap using on-line tools such as MyBlogLog. I’ll be joined by colleagues from Upcoming and Yahoo! Groups.

At the same time, there’s another edition of the silicon valley Search SIG. This time around the topic is Search & The Social Graph and unfortunately I cannot be there because of my previous commitment above. We’re lucky to have Kent Brewster step up in my place. Kent’s done some bang-up work using the MyBlogLog API so I’m thrilled to have him represent us.

UPDATE: for those of you who can’t attend my presentation in person, it’ll be streamed live over on the Netsquared channel.