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Yahoo! – Walled Garden or Commons?

This week’s Economist features a story on Yahoo!’s Personality Crisis. (scroll down a very little bit — it’s a cut and paste into someone’s blog.)

It very much touches on the philosophical issues of Web 2.0 bandied about of late. The story’s main thesis being that while Yahoo! attempts to match Google in terms of openness (acquisition of Flickr, etc.), such openness is in direct conflict with its business model — which is one of a media company that seeks to be “The only place anyone needs to go to find anything, communicate with anyone, or buy anything.”

I’ve argued before that Yahoo is not a sandbox company. I was refuted with calls of, “But what about these APIs? What about Flickr?” And in response to the Economist’s article, folks like Jeremy Zawodny plead, “Look at what we did with My Yahoo!. Check Yahoo! News. Not to mention the bazillions of RSS feeds we’ve been pumping out: News, Search, Flickr, Finance, Groups, 360, My Web, and more. Yahoo! is probably one of the biggest f’ing aggregators of third party content in the world.”

But that’s exactly the Economist’s point. There’s no personality crisis if Yahoo *isn’t* attempting openness. But these refutations strike me as small potatoes in the megalith that is Yahoo! And endeavors such as bulking up Yahoo’s presence in southern California strikes at the very heart of this conflict. Hollywood is not known for its open philosophy when it comes to content.

Clearly, it will take time before Yahoo figures itself out. But in the meantime, I encourage people at Yahoo to take the Economist’s article seriously. If you can’t recognize this inherent internal tugging, then you’re simply fooling yourselves.

  1. Yahoo and Flickr have really messed me up today. Flickr will not accept my sign in stuff and has not responded to the several complaints I’ve written throughout this long day.

  2. So I ran an end-around of Flickr’s program and found a person in the company who could give me a password to access my account. The problem, however, is still undiscovered and could recur.

    Now if the comment program would only keep its promise and keep my sign in for two weeks who knows how pleasant the Internet might become.

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