A couple of weeks ago I grabbed a bunch of screenshots off of MyBlogLog.com. MBL is one of the services on the infamous “sunset” slide and today there is a notice on the site saying that Yahoo will pull the plug on the service on May 24th. I worked on the service before coming to Nokia and much of what I know about Activity Streams and Context Filters is informed by the work done by the excellent team there.
The gallery below is mostly for my personal notes but I figured I’d share it as a walk down memory lane. I’ve annotated the screenshots to explain what’s going on for future reference.
The core of MyBlogLog was its sidebar widget that you could put on your site. When a registered user visited the site, their profile photo would show up in the widget. As you visited different sites, you’d start to see familiar faces on sites that you shared an interest making the web a much smaller, more personal, place.
MyBlogLog users would add their RSS and social network feeds to their profile and we would pull the tags off of each post and gather them together into profiles that would also feature a “tag cloud” of related topics, a list of bloggers and blogs that posted about the topic most often. We also experimented with ways to visualize which tags were trending across everything we were seeing.
The end result of gathering all this data was a data rich profile page that gave us the idea for the tagline, You are what you Feed. On the profile, which was public, you could see all your social network activity gathered together in several newsfeeds.
New with Me was all your own activity, New in My Neighborhood was an aggregation of all your friends and New in My World was an aggregation of the collective posts from the entire MyBlogLog network filtered by tags that were trending in your latest posts.
Going to other people’s pages and seeing what was New in their Neighborhood or their World was a great way to “look over the shoulder” of people you followed to see what they were reading.
Other elements on the profile included a list of my connections on MyBlogLog, links to my blogs and social network profiles, and blogs I visited frequently.
We played around with the profile quite a bit and built out a page for your blog and your profile which allowed any MyBlogLog user to attach and vote on free form tags as a user-generated “folksonomy” that was all the rage back then.
There was surprisingly little problem with spam or harassment. The web was a kinder/gentler place back then. These tags were used to build a WordPress plugin which would dynamically suggest content on a site related to your interests. For example, if Harley Davidson motorcycles was a stated interest of yours on the profile page, posts tagged with Harley Davidson would show up in the widget when you visited a site. We called it Just for You.
One of the cooler things we built (and only possible when these services were more open) was the Friend Finder. If you added all your social network IDs it would then you the social graph of the service to look up your friends across services. For example, if you and Bob Jones both added all your social network IDs, it would show where you were connected and invite you to connect on other services where you were not.
We also fully embraced the distributed web with sidebar and full-page widgets which you could embed on your site to display portions of your MyBlogLog profile that you might want to share on your site.
As a Yahoo acquisition, we had to convert all our users to use the YahooID which took a lot of time an effort. We did get to feature our API on the Yahoo Developer Network, build a retro 404 page, and have a little fun with the opt-out page.
Tired of twirling in stasis while Yahoo re-org’d itself, the team disbanded to go their different ways with me getting lured to Finland by Nokia and the others kicking around on their own projects (Gnip, Zentact, The DJ List to name a few).
The team has now come back together on OneTrueFan, a browser plug-in that is similar to MyBlogLog but turned inside-out. Instead of tracking who visits your site and leaving a trail of avatars in sidebars across the web, OTF tracks which sites you visit and collects other peoples’ avatars into your browser bottom-bar so you can see who else has been to the sites you visit. I owe the guys a post on my thoughts but in the time being, check out Louis Gray’s write-up.