My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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initial impression of Yahoo 360

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.

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18 comments to initial impression of Yahoo 360

  • The most important questions are 1) did you get an account, 2) will you invite me?

    Aside from that, did you like the service? Is it something you’d want to use for a blog? It sounds like it’s a good start for people (with Yahoo accounts) who want to start blogging, but were apprehensive because they didn’t have any previous connections. Now they’ll at least have the people in their address book, who may start their own blogs too.

  • Mel

    “i think that they should take the word “blog” out of the picture entirely”

    I agree. The (really lame) Multiply featured a quasi blog function (a really buggy one I might add) and now Ourmedia has the blog function as well – although it I feel there is value in the Ourmedia because it allows you to leave some context about your activities there and your uploaded content, etc.

    I crossposted something at ourmedia today and then thought ‘what am I doing, I already have a blog’ … and that was that. But who knows. It might serve a purpose later on. I agree with Jessica that these can serve as sort of starter blogs for people who are curious about blogging but not really 100 percent.

  • danah, does yahoo 360 integrate yahoo groups? I have been running a group there for some number of years and would love to incrementally add services to that group of people, though I don’t need a blog, a photo site, etc to do it.

  • 1) no accounts were given out – they are not finished developing it.

    2) No, it’s not a tool for me. I will use it like i explore every one of these things, but it doesn’t make sense for any of my needs.

    3) Mel – note that my objection with using the term blog differs from you. My problem is that the mainstream culture sees blogging as publishing or at least putting things out there very publicly. Using the term blog will discourage them from actually participating in the practice. Those of us who have a blog are not part of the picture

    4) Yes, groups is considered to be a part of it but i’m not sure how integrated it is as of yet. There are some confounding issues around groups and notion of groups within 360.

  • john

    Jeremy posts about this as well, and the mentions of Flickr in the discussion:

    http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/

    I think that it’s another good sign that Y! is really “getting it”. This looks like another leap for them, coming on the heels of announcing their API, the Creative Commons search, etc.

  • Yahoo: What AOL wanted to be if they could have only broke free of that clunky software and the monthly fee structure.

  • Please note: i cannot invite people; please don’t ask.

  • Mel

    “Using the term blog will discourage them from actually participating in the practice. Those of us who have a blog are not part of the picture”

    I see, rereading what you said, that the emphasis in your point was the public issue – not the form of blogging. I think I was just in agreement with the idea of their not using the word blog – but for my own reason (which has to do with how those blogs function in that context).

  • olivier

    Very Interesting 🙂
    I knock here because of the article quoting Mr Burt.
    And Actually I am this foreigner who since few week discover all those wonderful tool of social application.
    you are mentioning alot of technical issue concerning the 360 from Yahoo. What about the community invite, the networking process itself in terms of psychological approach. Does this new tool get in balance with the user psychology. I am surprised that you consider yourself, tester, as different from Lambda User. What’s the tool is really achieving today? i know that after 1 day test it’s pretty short. But You met someone in the street and you do not know him the psychological process should have some similarities or differences.

  • Damn I keep refreshing various pages on neowin and other tech forums to see if they sent invites outside the yahoo Dev Team…It seems they haven’t already or else it would have made a title somewhere. I hope to get invite directly by them or by someobe else as I considered entering the bloggin world. Quite franckly MSN Spaces is not my stuff, and as a great Yahoo user I rather go with them as they never did something wrong…unless…ibdeed, the Y! Groups that are blotted with ads everywhere! good ting they ‘re about to launch Y! 360 🙂

  • Yahoo! 360

    I’m testing Yahoo! 360. It seems very cool, works fine, you can classify you contacts in categories and import your contacts from Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo! Address Book and Microsoft Outlook. It has integration with many, maybe all, Yahoo! services: M…

  • nice

    could i have a invite?

  • I just put together a site that lets people trade Yahoo 360 Invites. Spread the word if you can.

    http://www.360invites.com

  • Yahoo 360

    Also via apophenia–initial impressions of Yahoo 360: 360 will be invite-only but they are not seeding through employees, rather,…

  • Yahoo!360 Beta is Kinda Buggy But Interesting

    I’ve signed up for the Yahoo!360 beta (thanks Steve Rubel for the invite) which combines blogging and social networking and puts Yahoo! in the blog biz in a big way. It’s invite only for now, and I have about 25…

  • Yahoo360 and the late majority

    Last week I received an invitation to Yahoo360, a social software aggregator that combines social networking tools with blog and

  • foistene humphrey

    can’t connecting yahoo messenger?
    can’t open yahoo messenger?

    can’t get connect?
    l have not been rec from my yahoo messenger?
    is bad yahoo!…

  • Dennis R Mills

    Good God!
    It is a good thing people.”I remain cautious”, and such like comments,have a ring of thinking too much.
    Yahoo! hit the nail on the head with this.