Tuesday, August 29, 2006


So congrats to our friends at Upcoming.org and Flickr for their Monday launches. Plenty of coverage all around the blogosphere... it's all been said. Here's what Upcoming did, and here's what Flickr did. Great stuff!

I'm really enamored of the event-related photos feature on Upcoming that knits these two products together. For every event on Upcoming, a canonical tag is generated that introduces a bit of passive structure. Attendees of the event can now use that tag on Flickr to unambiguously associate the Flickr photo with the Upcoming.org event!

I’m a little curious to see how tags like “foocamp06” win, lose, or happily co-exist with tags like “upcoming:event=97532” on Flickr. Cool reverse integration from Flickr back to Upcoming!

Even cooler! ZoneTag integration tying the two together is already done! Congrats Mor, Jeannie, et.al!

In the bad pun department, when press have cornered me into commenting about unreleased and unannounced product plans I say, “The only thing at Yahoo I can talk about that’s upcoming… is well… Upcoming.org.” They groan, but it works

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Google into Enterprise Apps

Google's extending into additional enterprise applications.

My buddy Dave Girouard runs Enterprise over at Google. Dave was VP of Product at Virage, and an absolutely brilliant strategist and business guy. He's been doing a great job with Google Enterprise Search, and now has extended his product line to other obvious categories.

Congrats to Dave, and Microsoft better keep an eye on Dave and team!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Come hack with us…

The news is out! We're going to have a party and we want you to come! This is an "Open" Developer Hack Day. We're inviting you to come join us at Yahoo's Sunnyvale campus and spend 24 hours building cool stuff on Yahoo's platforms and API's.

More at http://hackday.org

Chad, Kiersten, Mike, Caterina, Leonard, et.al. have been planning this for quite some time. This is gonna be big, and gonna be fun.

More later... but for now... sign up and let us know that you're in.

Oh! And our emcee will be the inimitable Mr. Arrington!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pitch your company at Web 2.0 Launch Pad

Per John's blog, I'm part of the Advisory Board for the Web 2.0 Launch Pad.

If you think you got the goods, tell us about it!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Packets on a Plane

I was bummed to see that Boeing is terminating its Connexion in-flight broadband service.

I recently enjoyed the service on the SingaporeAir long-haul flight from SFO-ICN and it was amazing. Even made a VOIP call, because... I could. Worked flawlessly. Changed the way I thought about flying.

While a bummer for Boeing, hopefully this isn't much of a setback for broadband in the sky.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Interesting(ness) post from O’Reilly

Chad told me that Tim O'Reilly posted about interestingness today. I've been contemplating another post about interestingness for a while, and I was glad Tim beat me to the punch! Some of this I hope to discuss at the Adaptive Path UX conference Wednesday too.

I've been starting out most talks that I've given lately by showing two examples of "user-generated content" back-to-back. First I show the numa-numa kid:

Then I say something like, "As amusing as this is... does anyone else find this kinda depressing? If stupid human tricks, pratfalls, fratboy pranks and skateboarding dogs are the future of media... let me off the bus!"

Then I say, "But fear not. This is also 'user-generated content'":

Originally uploaded by Sevenof9FL

Originally uploaded by Caleroalvero

Originally uploaded by anetbat

And I fire up a slideshow of the 100 most interesting photos on Flickr. It's hard to describe the unfailing impact that these photos have... they are alternately moving, funny, disturbing, provocative... I go on, "What's cool about these is that they are not only user-generated... They are also implicitly 'user-discovered'... It's not as if I spent a couple hours finding the 'good stuff' myself. The Flickr interestingness metric percolated the 'cream' to the top of the pile. By 'implicitly' I mean that there's no explicit 'rating system'. [I talk more about the value of implicit v. explicit means of deriving value here...] To be clear, Flickr is filled with plenty of junk. In fact, we like it that way. There's not just a low barrier to entry, there's virtually no barrier to entry. Got a camera? Bam! You're a 'photographer!'"

"So Flickr is a system that accommodates taking a 'worthless' picture of a hangnail, or a breathtaking Ansel Adams-like landscape. The cool thing is that while creating a frictionless environment that serves both scenarios, we can also determine which of the two is likely more 'interesting' to the community at large."

The ability to seperate wheat from chaff, or more accurately personally interesting from collectively interesting, is subtle but huge. And it does so without the use of link flux (i.e. PageRank) but rather uses 'in system' heuristics.

Usually after invoking the Flickr example, I transition to Y! Answers. If there's a complaint I hear about Y! Answers is that there's a lot of noise in the system. Admittedly, "Umm.. my boyfriend caught me sleeping with one of his best friends?", or "Why is the sky blue?", or "What's up?" do not necessarily resonate with the "expand all human knowledge" meme. But what's cool is that we can create a system that accommodates everything from the ridiculous to the sublime... but knows the difference between the two! (Or perhaps more accurately is taught the difference by millions of users.) This is the power of interestingness!

At this point I usually drop in a dry remark, "At Yahoo we have spent a fair amount of time and energy focusing on systems that are noisy, where anyone can say anything at anytime, etc. One of the most popular datasets and testbeds for these kinds of conditions is popularly known as... [prepare for punchline] the web... and we've been working on it for about a decade..." ;-)

I'm not sure why this post took on the flavor of a running commentary on my own talk, but that's how it came out!

I want to also remind folks that my relationship to the products I often invoke in this blog is best characterized as awed bystander. All hail Serguei, Yumio, Stewart, Tomi, etc!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Talk is Cheap… Dreams are Priceless

Last night, Krista and I went to see the play "Talk is Cheap... Dreams are Priceless."

The play is a one-man show by Jim Jarrett. It was fantastic, both in terms of execution and content.

The play showcases the teaching of Sandy (Sanford) Meisner. In fact, the play proceeds as if the audience were in fact a gathering of one of Meisner's classes, and Sandy confronts the audience as he did his students.

His teaching style was "unconventional" but absolutely thrilling, focused and of pure intention.

Krista's father William Alderson was one of Meisner's protoges, so the play had special meaning for Krista who knew Meisner as a child.

Go see this play!

Monday, August 7, 2006

Commentary on MySpace / Google

Today I was a last minute standin for Andrei Broder on the "The Search Laboratories" panel at SES in San Jose. Also on the panel were Peter Norvig of Google and James Colborn of MSN.

Now in the realm of search, I am not fit to carry Dr. Broder's bag. He's truly a legendary character - to wit, after the panel a self-described "Broder groupie" approached me with a copy of one of his papers that she'd brought to get autographed. I kid you not.

The panel went great. The final question was directed at Peter and myself. The questioner asked (and I paraphrase):

"Today we read that Myspace partnered with Google. For Peter, do you have a comment? And for Bradley, was this a partnership you wanted?"

Peter replied, "I've been in here all day! No comment."

I replied, "Myspace partners with Google... Is this a partnership we wanted?"

Long pause.

"We already tried partnering with Google. Been there, done that."

Methinks I sold the line pretty well. ;-)

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Plagiarized, but it’s cool

Browsing the web, I came upon my eulogy for Martin Friedmann on a free homework site: 123helpme.com. It was listed under "Eulogy for a Friend." What's amusing to me is that someone (or perhaps just some automated crawler) thought this would have any reuse or remix value. Marty was so unique (and the eulogy itself tried so hard to capture this) that I can't imagine anyone else would find value in it. (Check it out you'll see what I mean.)

Then I found this eulogy for this young man, with a few lines lifted wholesale from Marty's...

Although what we’ve lost is tremendous, what he gave us is immeasurable.

To those who knew him no explanation is necessary. To those who didn’t, no explanation is possible.

So I hereby grant unlimited use with or without attribution. Have at it. If it helps anyone in any way, by all means....

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Chris Anderson’s “Long Tail” book rocks…

On a flight today, I tore through Chris Anderson's Long Tail book. Loved it.

It was a fascinating experience. In a sense, I think we (and by this I mean a very big Royal We that likely includes anyone reading this) have been practicing much of what the book preaches for a very long time. It's coded into our DNA. It's the "Right Thing." But the book does a wonderful job giving us the vocabulary and framework. Chris modestly heaves credit at the "Long Tail practitioners" but he's being way too modest. As someone who spends a fair amount of time trying to explain things to people (in my case often the media), I've come to appreciate that finding the right framework, or analogy, or even turn of phrase is a delicate art form. And Chris is a brilliant artist.

I can't think of anyone who wouldn't benefit from reading this book. And Chris has made the book so accessible, everyone should...

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Y! Answers: On-demand MicroBlogging

Welcome Wall Street Journal readers! Lee Gomes wrote up a nice Q&A with me today about the new "bubble". Lee was gracious enough to include mentions of my dog Rashi and this blog, elatable. Thanks Lee!

Y! Answers
I've been thinking (and talking) about Yahoo! Answers a lot recently. A huge congrats to Yumio, Lesley, Bob B, Tom C, Ofer, Tomi, Eckart and the gang at Y! Answers for the tremendous growth that the product has enjoyed - truly remarkable. As a (very interested!) bystander I'm blown away and grateful for what you all have achieved.

I recently mentioned how traditional web search is generally retrospective or forensic, but Answers lets one search for knowledge which does not yet exist. Cool stuff, still blows my mind.

That model is really from the perspective of the asker, and speaks to the "pull" that invokes the knowledge. There's another way to think about Answers from the perspective of the answerer... The "push" of knowledge from the answerers head into the world.

Blogging has been heralded as the poster child for "user-generated content" or "amateur publishing" or whatever buzzword you may prefer. And at a technical and procedural level this is certainly true. The process of becoming "a blogger" has never been easier.

The hard part (now that the barriers to entry have melted away) is having something worthwhile to say. That really hasn't gotten any easier. Moreover as a newly minted "blogger" there's an expectation that you'll have a consistent, steady stream of interesting postings for your readers to enjoy. Nothing sadder than a dead blog or inactive blog.

But what of the more casual "blogger?" Someone who has only the occasional gem of wisdom to share? Someone who may not want to carry the baggage associated with owning and maintaining a blog per se?

Another way to think about Answers is that it's a system by which would-be "bloggers" can pick off areas of expertise and easily "post" what they know. You can think of each answer as a micro blog post... But instead of shooting it into the ether(net) on your blog, leaning back and waiting for readers to visit (either by the compelling title of the post, the blogger's reputation, etc.) Yahoo! Answers delivers a ready-made audience. In fact each "post" is in direct response to demand. Each question is a little appeal to the world that says "I'd be interested in knowing about..." and each answer is a little release of knowledge that may in another context been a more speculative blog post.

I'm obviously not suggesting that Yahoo! Answers replaces blogging, or that the two are ultimately equivalent. It's just interesting and useful to recognize answering as publishing, and examine the somewhat fuzzy line between the two endeavors...