Tag Archives | Yahoo

Search Query Driven News Debuts at Yahoo

With its background in search, it should not be a surprise that Yahoo’s news division plans to use search queries to drive another portion of its business–news. However, what is surprising is that it will basically be the first major news provider to do so.

Yahoo’s search users would in essence become the assignment editor. Whatever topics appear frequently in those queries would then be passed on to the company’s team of editors and bloggers, and stories would be written based on those findings.

The blog will be called The Upshot, and would be launched Tuesday (editors note: the previous link won’t work until then). According to the New York Times, Yahoo hopes this would result in a news blog that would be catered to what their users want to read.

Is it a risky experiment? I’d say yes. Depending on the hot news of the day, you could be seeing news on the oil spill one day, and the latest on Lindsay Lohan’s never dull social life the next. I’m hoping however that those mining the Yahoo search queries will help to smooth out the obvious shifts in our collective mindset to provide a less schizophrenic look at the news.

At the same time, that data could also give Yahoo a leg up on the competition in seeing trends on what potential readers may look for which isn’t being covered in the media. I’m curious to see if it works. If it does, and other news outlets pick up on the idea, are the days of the assignment editor numbered?

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Starbucks Wi-Fi Goes Free

Looks like Starbucks is finally getting with the program and offering truly free Wi-Fi, starting July 1st in partnership with Yahoo. (Until now it’s offered two free hours a day to Starbucks cardholders.) I don’t even drink coffee, and I have a Verizon Wireless MiFi mobile router that radically reduces my interest in free hotspots–but I’m pleased by the news.


Yahoo’s Sketch-a-Search

I’m at Yahoo this morning for a press event the company is holding about its search activities. One overarching goal, clearly, is to make the case that Yahoo intends to remain an innovative force in search even assuming that its deal with Microsoft goes through and Bing’s index winds up as the basis of Yahoo’s search features.

Unlike yesterday’s Google Buzz launch, Yahoo’s event doesn’t involve any major announcement. We’ve seen a few brief recaps of minor recent additions to Yahoo’s search features, and gotten some quick previews of features in the works. The most interesting of the latter demos was of an iPhone app that lets you draw an outline with your fingertip on a map to indicate a geographic area, then get local results–for instance, to find restaurants on the waterfront.

Here’s a lousy photograph of the feature in action:

Yahoo says the goal is to let people search as easily as kids draw with an Etch-a-Sketch–it calls this feature “sketch-a-search.” As someone who spent a lot of time with an Etch-a-Sketch in my youth, the metaphor doesn’t quite make sense: The defining feature of the Etch-a-Sketch is that it’s hard to get a picture out of it that’s anything like the one you might have in your head. (It’s a lot of fun to try, though.)

I do like Sketch-a-Search, though–I’ve certainly spent a lot of time on the iPhone and other phones futzing with maps and having trouble zooming in to the geographical area I care about. I tend to end up either with the entire United States or a one-block radius, when what I really want is a region of half a mile or so.

Yahoo didn’t have anything to say about when or how they’ll make Sketch-a-Search available to consumers.


5Words: How Kind of You, Yahoo!

Dell’s cheap, thin Vostro: neat!Yahoo launches a kindness initiative.

MySpace: bad news, iMeem fans.

Apple reveals iTunes store bestsellers.

Mozilla’s Thunderbird 3 e-mail ships.

Dragon voice recognition on iPhone.

Samsung’s Bada platform: details, please!

Facebook shutter Beacon, pays up.

Who gets your Facebook info?


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A New Reason to Look at Yahoo: Facebook Connect

I consider this very good news: Yahoo and Facebook have announced plans to integrate Facebook Connect into Yahoo during the first half of next year.

Yahoo’s blog post about the news doesn’t provide a whole lot of detail, but it says that you’ll be able to (A) share Yahoo features such as photos, article comments, ratings, and more via your Facebook activity stream; (B) benefit from “richer experiences” on services such as Yahoo Mail, Yahoo News, Yahoo Answers, and Yahoo Sports; and (C) update your status message on Facebook or on various Yahoo services. I’m assuming/hoping that you’ll also be able to log into any Yahoo service with your Facebook credentials, although the post doesn’t explicitly say so.

It’s a pleasant surprise to see a Web player as big as Yahoo turn on Facebook Connect. Even if the decision stems in part from Yahoo’s somewhat fragile condition and resulting willingness to behave in ways that a super-ambitious, Web-dominating monolith would not. (What do you think the chances are that Google will turn on Facebook Connect anytime soon?)

The more time I spend online, the more I realize that I don’t want multiple, fractured collections of friends, family, and acquaintances stored at various destinations around the Web. I want one well-organized, close-to-comprehensive database of people I care about. For a lot of us, that data lives on Facebook. The more places we can get to it, the better. And a Facebook-enabled Yahoo gives me a pretty tantalizing reason to consider using Yahoo services instead of comparable ones from Google, Microsoft, and other Yahoo rivals.

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What the World’s Been Searching For in 2009

It’s become a tradition for the major search engines to release year-end summaries of what their users have been searching for–and for reasons unknown to me, all of them unveil these lists on December 1st, so they really cover 11/12th of the year.

After the jump, lists from Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask.com–sadly but unsurprisingly, the gent to the right hit number one on three out of the four charts. And just for the heck of it, I’ll tell you about the searches that bring folks to Technologizer, absolutely none of which involve deceased celebrities, reality TV, or infectious diseases.

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Curtain Call for GeoCities

geocities-logoSometime today, the servers for what once was one of the most popular sites on the web will be shut off. As earlier announced, Yahoo will be shutting down the once very popular GeoCities web hosting service for good. The company says it will not be archiving the content, so if you have an old webpage there you better act quickly to do it yourself.

The company did say the Internet Archive was archiving content from the GeoCities servers, however there’s no guarantee it would have every page.

Yahoo announced its plans to do away with the service back in April of this year. The company said at the time that “we have decided to focus on helping our customers explore and build relationships online in other ways,” and suggested those that would like to continue hosting with Yahoo migrate their websites to one of the company’s paid hosting plans.

Either way, its sad to see GeoCities go, even though the service now is a far cry from its heyday in the late 1990s-early 2000s. Chances are if you were an Internet geek at that point, you at least had one website on the service. I know personally I either created or lended a hand in creating at least three.

I wonder if it’s still there? I’ll have to search. Would be a nice trip down memory lane…

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Yahoo Mail is Unhappy This Morning


TechCrunch’s Leena Rao is reporting that Yahoo Mail is suffering a widespread but non-universal outage at the moment. Yup, I can’t get in to my account, but the first person I asked to check was fine.

Rao also says that Yahoo Mail is the most popular Webmail service, with over 300 million users. Let’s see if this glitch attracts even a meaningful fraction of the attention that the smaller-but-higher-profile Gmail’s hiccups prompt

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The Yahoo Ad Onslaught Begins

Yahoo plans to spend $100 million marketing itself, and it’s posted the ad that kicks off the new campaign:

If you showed an alien this ad, he (she? it?) would come to the conclusion that Yahoo is a place where nobody’s old, bald, fat, or ugly–and where nobody uses computers. Whatever problems Yahoo has, they don’t avoid a shortage of users; I think it’s less about encouraging folks to use the site and more about attempting to glamorize the Yahoo name and remind marketers that a heck of a lot of folks use Yahoo for all sorts of purposes everyday.

Fair enough, I guess-but the emphasis on personalization (“It’s You”) feels like it’s still catching up with the reality of today’s Internet, where there’s hardly anything that isn’t really customizable, and where stuff created by real people is a primary attraction almost everywhere. If you stripped out the explicit Yahoo references and told me this was an ad for Windows Live, I’d believe you.

Your thoughts?


Yahoo’s New Search: Good Today, Gone Tomorrow?

Yahoo LogoOn Monday, Yahoo unveiled significant revisions to its search engine, as detailed in this blog post. I like the new stuff–especially the embedded YouTube videos (despite owning YouTube, Google doesn’t embed it in search results) and the overall performance (as Yahoo claims, the new engine feels fast). But given Yahoo’s plans to turn its search infrastructure over to Microsoft’s Bing, feeling good about Yahoo search paradoxically leaves me kinda uneasy.  It’s still not clear whether Yahoo touches like the Search Pad research tool will survive the Bing takeover. On the other hand, it’s also not completely clear that the feds will approve the Microsoft deal.

This I do know: Yahoo search is still stuck in an odd limbo. If it’s going to be Binged, I hope it happens expeditiously. But as a mere user of Yahoo rather than an investor, I’m not so sure that I wouldn’t prefer to have Yahoo and Microsoft continue to duke it out with each other as well as with Google to build the best possible search engine.

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