Yahoo! acquires MyBlogLog, puts a face to analytics

Holy crap this year started off with a bang! I’ve been lumbering in a post-holiday daze for the past couple of weeks but a quick succession of events snapped me out of it.

mybloglog.JPG Yahoo! acquires MyBlogLog – I’ve been using the service for quite some time now and have been singing it’s praises internally. The design leaves a little to be desired but that’s just superficial. At its core, is a gem of a concept. What better way to tap into the ego of your readers than to feature their face on your blogroll? If you’re a MyBlogLog user, you’ll see your face on the Recent Readers “faceroll” on the sidebar. Not seeing your face? Go sign up then. This service has a built-in user acquisition strategy.

I like the way their stats package is laid out as well. Left to Right you have:

  • Where Readers Came From (referral info)
  • What Readers Viewed (page view info)
  • What Readers Clicked (outgoing link)

As an added bonus you have a view of what other sites your members visited across the web as well as the other MyBlogLog communities that your members have joined so you get a real sense of your audience.

But the best part of this service is that it takes a very basic human instinct – curiosity – and spins it into a driver to build community in a very unobtrusive way. Once you join MyBlogLog you’ll find yourself getting automatically added to other MyBlogLog communities. No spamming your friends with yet another social network, no invite requests, it’s all transparent and driven by your behavior. The default is after 10 visits (this can be changed). What this means is that after showing up on someone else’s Faceroll 10 times, it’s assumed that you’re a frequent enough visitor that you don’t throwing your lot in with that community and your face showing up on that blog’s community page.

As you click around the community pages you’ll see faces you recognize or others that just look interesting. As my 4 year old daughter showed me, sometimes you just click on someone to see what they’re about. “Who’s that!” she said as we clicked on someone named Andi. Lo and behold – this afternoon as I write this, I recognize Andi’s avitar on my Faceroll – she saw that we stopped by and counter-clicked through to my site to see who the hell I was. If you’re reading this Andi, “Hi!”.

So hands down, the Faceroll thing is much easier to remember than looking at a random IP address or top level domains in your referal logs. It’s a great way to get to know your audience. The other great thing is that your visitors that are coming to you from MyBlogLog all have websites they claimed. You get to not only put a face to a visitor, you also get to see what they write about, what sites they like to visit, and who visits them. Of course this all means that to be an upstanding member of a community, you need to have a website that features MyBlogLog – goodbye inbox, we are now shifting the conversation over to comments & trackbacks. As MySpace taught us, no one sends email anymore, all casual conversation takes place on each other’s friends pages. MyBlogLog enables any website anywhere to become your own friends page – hello inbox 2.0!

Part of Yahoo’s mission statement is about helping people connect to their passions and communities and MyBlogLog falls right into that line. Welcome aboard Scott and congratulations Bradley and Chad for making this happen.

The other thing that happened? Apple just reinvented the cellphone. I’m off to Moscone this afternoon to check it out.


How to Create a Thumbnail Blogroll, a 20-minute hack


Yahoo! had one of its internal hack days [1] today and while work kept me from devoting enough time to work on an effort on the scale of last time, an email at 9am this morning did give me the chance to show at least something at today’s show-n-tell.

I’ve been thinking of picture-in-picture badges for a while now and like the concept of a blog’s sidebar acting as a portal to your editorial view of the world. Match this navigational concept to the fact that badges are becoming more and more like the online equivalent of wearing a branded t-shirt and colleague Cody Simms thought was there’s an opportunity for a badge which showed a collection of websites you liked.

So when I got an email from FavoriteThingz (no longer in service) that they have opened up their service to allow you to create multiple badges of just about anything you could think of, neurons fired off on a way to update the tired-looking plain text blogroll.

Faces of people you read like those you see on MyBlogLog (which is totally rad for its own reasons) don’t really work in the context of a blogroll when it’s faces of people you don’t really know. Japanese salarymen have a saying that your business card is your “face” and in much the same way, your blog is “your face” on the internet.

It’s not really a hack (more like a “hand-cranked mashup”) but it’s a cool concept just dying for a little scripting. So here it is, in five easy steps:

1. Go to the webpage thumbnail creation service,, and enter the URL of a blog on your blogroll into the form on the page.

2. Right click on the 400×300 pixel image and save the image file locally.

3. Go to (no longer in service) and create a new badge. Click “add thingz” and “add items manually” on the next page.

4. Select “custom” from the dropdown and enter the blog’s title, URL, and “browse” to select the image file you just saved. Click “save & add another”

5. Repeat.

There you have it! Generate the code for the badge and copy it into your sidebar or anywhere else on your page for a cool looking interactive widget which is way more interesting than a long list of text links. For an example, check out how it looks on my blogroll page. (Favoritethingz, the service that hosted this hack is no longer in service.)

[1] Thank you Leonard & Chris Plasser for organizing a bang up Hack Day. I think I’m safe in saying that my hack was by far the least technically spectacular of the bunch. I had to leave early but did get the watch a few of the demos via the live feed and have to say that the hacks (over 100 by my count) this time around were even more impressive than before. The theme seemed to be, “simple yet revolutionary” – it’s amazing what you can do with a few lines of code these days.