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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Post Once, Change All, Spam Once, Spam Everywhere

It's truly a strange world online now. Google is rumored to be on the verge of an announcement on Monday that would make all social media data portable, connectable and linkable. How strange would it be to post to your favorite social networking site with an update like, say maybe adding a new friend - and instantly update any of your other social profiles with that change or addition?

Michael Arrington, first with many big announcements because businesses (and insiders, and PR departments and...) know the attention level of a TechCrunch post can beat (or lead as the source) for National Media outlets.

Well, Arrington is speculating (or leaking) that Google is about to launch "Friend Connect" following on the heels of the Yahoo Open Strategy announcement, the MySpace Data Availability announcement, then the FaceBook response to the MySpace announcement with Facebook Connect announcement and now, a truly strange service called OnlyWire bookmarklet for posting links to social bookmarking services - all of them - at ONCE.

Despite the fact that many want those services to be shared by different groups of friends, coworkers, or family - this is a very interesting development in what it means to be social, what being social means to search visibility and how this might affect spamming for SEO. Want a sample? Check out this Google Search for Xoost - a truly bizarre result-set.

If that group of Xoost search results doesn't concern you about how multi-posting and single source updates to social bookmarking sites might be abused for search engine spamming, then you have nerves of steel.

For perfect clarity - I am not labeling any site, service or company mentioned here as spammers - I fear for the abuse of this newest development as taking a step too far toward openness, so that all of them could be abused horribly. Yes, with proper attention, only briefly - but it's like standing on the precipice looking down several stories to a river of sewage we could fall into.

What is the right amount of openness, portability and single source updating? I don't have a clue - but I worry that the noise level could go up dramatically and search relevance could suffer in an escalating "openness" arms race.

I've had my nervous moment now - let's hope it doesn't get as ugly as all that.

Update shows that Friend Connect from Google is different from the expectations and not joining in the portability madness in the way I had feared - whew! Below is a Google video on this new social networking tool.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Startups in Social Content Sharing

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yahoo Open Strategy a Volley Against Microsoft?

Yahoo announced last week at the Web 2.0 conference that they are opening up their entire network to developers to build apps and mashups. The announcement was covered by Greg Sterling for SearchEngineLand and the brief 14 minute announcement and explanation by Yahoo CTO Ari Baolgh has been covered by very well by Michael Arrington at TechCrunch. There's also a wonderfully prescient view from Loren Baker at SearchEngineJournal - from a YEAR ago, which he looks at again in the light of Yahoo announcements this past week.

Here's a video of the Ari Baolgh Web 2.0 Keynote presentation, thanks to Yahoo Video:

I got to attend a later, Friday Web 2.0 presentation titled "Yahoo! and Open Platforms, A Deeper Dive by Yahoo Chief Architect of Platforms, Neal Sample, who delivered as promised with a presentation on how the whole Yahoo Network, including Yahoo Mail, Flickr, Answers, etc. all get reworked and rejiggered to make this one massive Social experiment.

I've taken a look elsewhere at the Y!OS or Yahoo Open Strategy idea through the lens of privacy concerns this may raise for the 500 Million claimed Yahoo users.

But privacy issues aside here, this announcement could truly gain Yahoo an increased bid from Microsoft now that the MSFT deadline for a response from Yahoo has come and gone this past weekend. Watching the video above, one has to imagine Balogh seeing this as a presentation directly to Microsoft and picturing the camera as Steve Ballmer - the video being made available first to Michael Arrington at TechCrunch (hmmm what Yahoo strategy!), who put it well in his coverage, saying:

They still, of course, have to actually launch this massive project - for now it’s all ideas and vaporware. And no one knows what Microsoft thinks of all this, or what happens to YOS if that deal is done.
Now let's see how the press reacts Monday morning and what noises Microsoft makes in light of these Yahoo announcements. Microsoft invested $240 Million in Facebook not long after they announced a much smaller scale "Open" strategy, that's the same Facebook which is not even participating in the Google Open Social model - but Yahoo is participating and - one might argue - leading in this monstrous experiment that must have Microsoft groaning in agony.

Microsoft, open? They gotta hate this Yahoo Open Strategy (YOS) idea. Google moves to undermine Microsoft on Google Docs, Yahoo moves to undermine Microsoft takeover bid by open-sourcing their entire network (hmmm what Yahoo strategy!).

Despite my privacy concerns, I'm excited at what this may mean for search in general - not just for Yahoo - but for the web and how search works. I've been critical of Yahoo for their massive acquisitiveness in the past and have never understood how they failed to take advantage of their massive audience to become a social networking leader (Geocities anyone?).

This is big and I can't imagine how this could fail to evolve search and social media. It will affect everyone if they pull it off successfully and if Microsoft doesn't screw it all up for them with a proxy battle and eventual win.

I never could have imagined myself in a position to cheer for Yahoo, but I may ... I just may. ;-)

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