Good presentation from Yahoo! CTO

I was really pleased to see Yahoo! make a public statement about some of the work going on internally to transform the way the company operates and the resulting changes in the product line. As Cody Simms added in his blog post on YDN:

“We’re moving from a model in which each Yahoo! property develops much of its own technology to one where we share common data and frameworks that can be easily surfaced across multiple Yahoo! properties and off the network. It’s a major rewiring of Yahoo!. “

Here’s the video of Yahoo! CTO Ari Balogh’s keynote at Web 2.0 Expo:

Now, there wasn’t a lot of time in Ari’s presentation. That meant that he had to focus and left out some important pieces, in my mind.

First, he definitely understated the cluefulness the company has shown with things like Fire Eagle, MyBlogLog, Y! Live, OpenID and Hadoop support, Pipes, YUI and, of course, Flickr, to name a few. Yahoo! has innovated around openness and Internet services for a long time. The company needs to be proud of those things and recognize that the advances on these small teams really matter. In fact, it’s those types of advances that I find most compelling in Yahoo!’s arsenal as opposed to the things that help me “get distribution on Yahoo!’s monumentally popular properties”.

I was also a little disappointed that Ari didn’t at least touch on how the company intends to serve the wider Internet and all the activity happening outside of There are a lot of ways everyone benefits from Yahoo!’s data, tools and services wherever those things are used, but he focused exclusively on what happens on

Lastly, it would have been nice to hear about how developers can benefit from Yahoo!’s ad platform or to hear whatever other ways they can build businesses in the Yahoo! ecosystem. All things considered, I think that was a forgivable omission. I hope they don’t take too long to answer that question, though.

My criticisms here are purely driven by my desire to see Yahoo! win. Again, I know there’s some great stuff happening there, and I love seeing the company stand up and speak with confidence about its future. It should do more of that.

I’m looking forward to seeing all this unfold in the coming months. Well done, Yahoo!.

Step 1: Define vision. done
Step 2: Make it so.

Interesting perspectives from Web 2.0 Expo

Today’s Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco provided some really good brain food.

Clay Shirky’s keynote was excellent. He talked about architecting a new world for the “cognitive surplus” that’s emerging as people pull themselves out of the historical sitcom hangover and invest their energy online. Matt Jones and Tom Coates shared some neat ideas on design for personal infomatics. And Twitter’s Alex Payne and Michael Migurski of Stamen Design presented learnings from the perspective of an API provider.

One little nugget I really liked was a minor point Migurski made when talking through the Oakland Crimespotting service. He noted that there are several standard formats commonly provided by most web services including HTML, JSON, serliazed PHP, RSS and XML.

But we often forget about simple Excel spreadsheets.

He showed how the Oakland Crimespotting site offers downloadable Excel spreadsheets detailing recent activity from particular police beats, for example.

One of the keys to opening up government data is making the case to the people who are best equipped to provide raw data that it needs to be posted directly to the Internet. Telling them they need to output JSON for data visualizations and mashups will do as much good as a slap in the face. Showing them a regularly updating Excel spreadsheet that is findable on a web page that they can email to their colleagues, friends and families is going to get them thinking differently and perhaps encourage their participation directly.

The crime data issue is going to be a big deal in the not too distant future, I’m sure. And as Mr. Coates and Mr. Jones noted in their talks on personal data design, it’s the details that really matter in this space. You can think about products and features all day, but the specifics that define how data is shared, how it becomes relevant and how it is presented will make or break the intent of any offering.

Designing Your API, Web 2.0 Expo 2008: