Looking around Yahoo! 360

Like quite a few people, I got a chance to start playing with Yahoo 360° today (thanks Jeremy for the invitation). Here’s a quick look at the service.

Solid Integration

The first thing that is apparent is that this is more than just a blogging package or social network one. From the name to the way one’s web page is integrated with other parts of Yahoo!, it is clear that this is a longer term play with attempts at integration.

While some integration points are pretty solid (Yahoo! messenger, Yahoo! Launch, Yahoo! local, and the Yahoo! photo service seem well integrated), others are major misses. For example, why is it that this service has a different mailbox than my already existing Yahoo! mailbox? (and does that mean I now need to check mail in two accounts?) Going further, why are services like Yahoo profile and Geocities not integrated in this? It seems they would be natural integration point and yet they are nowhere to be seen. Last but not least is the main question about integration of my.yahoo and “My page” on this service. There should be another natural point of integration there, shouldn’t there be?

Basic blogging

The blogging platform, though light on features, seems pretty solid. The authoring interface is clean and uncluttered and presents a
public blog that has the most basic of blog features: entries, permalink, blogroll, RSS, and comments. This is far from earth-shattering and blogger still offers a richer experience as a whole but this could be a good starter kit. In a way, it has the same feel as similar offerings from AOL and MSN so I doubt Yahoo! will unseat Blogger with this offering.

Worries about copyrights

More worrisome, however, is the RSS feed. I took a look at it was a bit annoyed by the URL structure for it but that was the least of my worries. When I looked inside is when I made the decision that I would never use the 360 blog for anything serious. My reason was in the code of the RSS feed where the following appeared:
Copyright 2005, Yahoo!

I looked at this and thought that maybe I had misread the
terms of services when I signed up. So I went to read them again and found the following

8. CONTENT SUBMITTED OR MADE AVAILABLE FOR INCLUSION ON THE SERVICEYahoo! does not claim ownership of Content you submit or make available for inclusion on the Service.

How could it be then, that the content of my RSS channel is copyrighted by Yahoo!? I’m not sure but I thing it’s good enough a reason to steer clear of using this service. The service may offer some interesting stuff (for example, closer inspection revealed that moblogging is possible) but do I really want to give my copyright to Yahoo! In a world where large media corporations are trying to get more and more control over the content they own, one has to be careful about the content they give to those large corporations.

Social Networking

The social network component looks like every other social networks out there. As a late entrant into the game, I don’t know how much play Yahoo! will get out of this as people get what I would consider “social network fatigue” which is a disease which symptoms are very simple: if you’re tired of having to invite people to another social network, you’re suffering from it. I now have accounts on Orkut, LinkedIn, Ryze, Friendster and a few others: what more will Yahoo! offer me and how can I get my contact from one of those into the others easily? What we need is an aggregator of social networks (or an agreement between the different social networks to work on a common format so that if I have a relationship with one person on a social network, the other social network would recognize that link and not force me to re-invite the person). When I have a social relationship with a person, I do not have to contact them every time I use a different device. It seems that, as social networks proliferate, the individual value of the concept is dropping further and further.

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