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« How could your TV set become social? | Main | Adam Bosworth on Social Software »

March 24, 2005

initial impression of Yahoo 360

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Posted by danah boyd

Today, Yahoo invited a handful of “influencers” to have early access to their new product 360 degrees. Apparently, i’m one of them so i got to sit around a table at Yahoo, learn about the product and speak my mind. I have to say that i’m impressed that Yahoo folks wanted to hear all of our crankiness head-on rather than waiting for it to appear in our random ramblings online. Even better: they didn’t make us sign any NDAs so we can blog all we want. I lurve that.

So, the tool comes out in like a week. I don’t know how final the version that we saw today is, but i thought i’d offer some impressions based on what i saw since i know folks out there are curious.

360 will be invite-only but they are not seeding through employees, rather, they are seeding through active Yahoo users. This is actually very important because frankly, 360 isn’t meant for people like me (or like you). It’s meant for your average not-technically inclined individual who is scared of blogging but wants to share their thoughts, photos, and recommendations with their friends. Thus, before we all get into a blogizzy, it’s important to remember the target.

The feature set that i saw included integrated YIM, a blogging tool, a recommendations engine (linked to local), photos (linked to Y photos, not Flickr) and a social network. It’s all very integrated and emphasizes Yahoo products (although they were talking about connecting it with other products and they are doing some RSS stuff). Throughout all of this are heavy controls for privacy/publication, although it is all strict categorization schemes where you can make things available to groups (think: LJ).

Of course, it has all of the social problems of bi-directional, articulated social networks (nothing solved there). And the controls are really overwhelming. In fact, a lot of the product is overwhelming for the not-technically-savvy and i think that this will be their major problem unless they figure out how to slowly expose things (one of our strongest recommendations). For the techgeek, it will feel like they didn’t go far enough, didn’t have enough features, etc. That’s actually a lot easier to solve than the overwhelming problem and i expect they’ll build new features soon so i think that the techgeeks should wait. But i’m really worried about the novice user because it has many of the problems of blogging, privacy and social networks rolled into one big problem. Plus, you really need to be heavily integrated into the Yahoo network for it to really make sense.

Frankly, i think that they should take the word “blog” out of the picture entirely. While the service allows you to share your materials with layered groups of friends, the term ‘blog’ is intimidating to the mainstream who see it as publishing or otherwise uber-public. Since Yahoo isn’t requiring uber-public, i think that they should get rid of the term. We’ll see what happens.

I also think that it makes much much more sense connected with photosharing and i really wish that they would wait on this product until Flickr is connected with them - there’s going to be so much overlap and confusion :( Plus, while there are huge problems with Flickr’s system of privacy management, there’s a lot that they have going for them interface wise. For example, you don’t have to click stupid edit buttons - you can edit while consuming. This is soooo cool. I wish more folks would have fun with javascript.

Anyhow, my general impression is that i’m wary, but i don’t think that this is for me and i think it will be nice for the heavily integrated Yahoo user.

Comments (9) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: social software


1. googoz on March 25, 2005 9:06 AM writes...

As you said that 360 would be invite-only, i would feel sooo appreciated,if i should get a invitation from you.

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2. Dawn Raynier on March 25, 2005 11:05 AM writes...

Yahoo 360 sounds like Multiply.

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3. Chris DeVore on March 25, 2005 3:00 PM writes...

Thanks for the great assessment of Y!360 and the challenges they face. We don't have Yahoo's resources, but my company - Judy's Book, - released a beta about a month ago that offers many of the same features. We still have plenty to learn about translating the real-world habits of 'social search' to the Web, and we'd love a similarly thoughtful critique of our strengths and weaknesses. Please come take a look!

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4. p on March 25, 2005 6:01 PM writes...

hi, you can use ° to display the degree sign in HTML

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5. andrew on March 25, 2005 11:56 PM writes...

"In fact, a lot of the product is overwhelming for the not-technically-savvy..."

How do you know? It sounds like the room was only full of insider geek-types, not the "not-technically-saavy." I hope Yahoo's done some usability testing on their target market.

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6. Mark Metz on March 29, 2005 10:51 AM writes...

Every one of these enhancements takes Yahoo! further away from its original search mission/brand. More power to them, but people should start to recognize that Yahoo search is hardly unbiased and Yahoo alters its results to fit its business objectives. In the travel sector, for example, there's lots of junk in their search results; quality results would interfere with their walled garden philosophy and compete with Yahoo's own travel sales and it's FareChase subsidiary. Not that the world is fair, but people should know what they are getting from a household name company is not exactly a fair representation of the web.

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7. Guillaume on March 30, 2005 6:05 AM writes...

If you guys wish to be invited just drop me a line at
guillaume.belfiore gmail com and I'll send you invits

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8. Jason on March 30, 2005 6:22 PM writes...

Invite only, but here are 2000 invites just one click away. I am sure some of them are still available ;)

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9. martin on March 31, 2005 7:28 AM writes...

Yahoo 360 is seriously deficient at the moment and I see nothing that excites.

Time will tell I guess.

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