Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Idiots! A rant aimed at Yahoo!

This post started out as a rant against today's changes at Yahoo! But like most rants, a good deal of the outburst can be discarded once one has had time to think and work out the correct next action. It started this morning when I opened up my personalized page at Yahoo! While it's not fashionable to still have one of those pages, I have honed my own MyYahoo page to the point where it is actually very efficient as a launch pad through out my work day. The most successful column I ever wrote to our membership was the one I did on my use of this particular page; it got circulated throughout organizations and I even got a speaking engagement out of it.

At any rate, one of the things that the page has allowed me to do for years (up until this morning) is keep a static list of about a dozen to eighteen bookmarked pages in a special segment of the page. I used that segment of the page as a navigational launch pad to reach sites whose content was not really suited to an RSS feed. I'm talking about sites like Techmeme and Reddit and Google Books, sites whose engineering of content makes them of more value when you pay an actual visit. As near as I can think it out, content comes in three ways for my purposes: RSS feeds for content updates, aggregation sites for overviews of multiple feeds from sites that I might or might not need to follow daily, and individual content pages that are stored because they are useful for background and/or current research. I use news readers (like the one built into the Flock browser), I use aggregation sites like Findory and I use social bookmarking tools. (I have bookmarked pages in all three Yahoo tools (, MyWeb, and the recently launched beta Yahoo bookmarks).

Yahoo this morning eliminated the static bookmark listing from my personalized page (without warning me that if I didn't move those 12-18 links to one of the bookmarking tools, they would disappear at a time of Yahoo's choosing). Without that static navigational list of bookmarks immediately accessible to me on that page, the value of the MyYahoo! page as an information dashboard is lessened considerably.

I suspect that Yahoo! wants to drive me in the direction of what they deem to be better tools -- social bookmarking tools (one huge database of valued web pages visited by many people and against which they can sell advertising), their social networking platform (360) and the handy Yahoo toolbar. Bear in mind I already use all of those tools at Yahoo! I suppose they ultimately hope to drop the hosting of personalized portal page in favor of these other offerings.

But as a user, I'm really not happy now. I had honed that MyYahoo! page down to the specific elements I regularly consulted. I visited that page multiple times daily (in large part to use the navigational links). Yahoo! in turn sold advertising off that page and reaped the benefit of my frequent visits.

My solution (and I'm not thrilled with it because I am not all that fond of the personalized Google homepage) was to replicate the list of links over in the Google environment. My attitude has always been to distribute my "Attention data" through use of a variety of sites and now Yahoo has forced me to move something over to Google's column. Believe me when I say I emailed Yahoo this morning and let them know that they were driving me over to that side of Silicon Valley Street. Should they be allowing that to happen when they just got downgraded by analysts this past month?

Hey, Yahoo guys! Guess what? You're trying to be "helpful" and I don't want to be helped and/or upgraded! Don't force me into adopting a tool or service I don't want. I want my nice legible static page with my static list of bookmarks that I've used for years!

Do you suppose anyone heard me?