Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Yahoo 360 to Combine Weblogs with Social Net

CNET News notes along with other majors the Beta testing of a new Yahoo! service. According to the teaser page put up to greet the public Yahoo!360 is a combination of social networking, file sharing and weblogging with controls that allow one to limit the exposure of content to others easily. With no plans to monetize this effort immediately, Yahoo! is taking a Google-like stance to work with people to attract a committed online community. The implication is that this is oriented towards consumer uses, yet communities and their content are likely to form on a number of levels, as with weblogs and other tools that were presumed by many to be mostly personal content tools. Yahoo! is aiming to provide a service that integrates personal content and communications on a number of levels, as opposed to the relatively scatter-shot approach taken by Google with its unintegrated Blogger, Orkut and Gmail efforts. For all of its insights into how content can work for people via technology Google seems to be hanging back from making concerted efforts to draw people together via its content development efforts. Google remains the anti-portal, friendly in its own way and effective but ultimately not terribly engaging or interested in getting to know their users all that well. This keeps them focused on their technical mission, but at some point all technology companies playing in the content arena have to decide whether they're really trying to build a content product or a technology platform or feature (witness TiVo's recognition that salvation may be becoming a feature inside a Comcast cable box). Google still seems to be wrestling with it's identity as a publisher as opposed to a collection of clever technologies. It may want to stay lean and mean and not be bogged down by to many "people issues," but ultimately it's the content companies that solve those issues best with technology that survive.
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