Back in January, I wrote about the My Yahoo RSS module that went into public beta testing. But what I didn't write about, for obvious reasons, was the thinking about the future of My Yahoo that was going on after that launch.
This is clearly a different world than when My Yahoo was a New Thing. Personalization on the Web is Old News. Aggregation and Syndication are some of the hottest topics around these days. But the difference between old school My Yahoo aggregation and today's RSS and Atom driven aggregation is that it's a decentralized model.
Well, we just launched a beta of the next generation of My Yahoo that fits into that reality. Instead of "you can add anything you want, as long as it's on the list of My Yahoo content" you can now add pretty much any public RSS or Atom feed. In other words, the content model is open.
Let me say that again, just for dramatic effect: the content model is open now.
Taking it to the People
This not only makes My Yahoo relevant in the modern wave of syndication, it does something else--something that Yahoo is in a unique position to do: bring RSS to the masses.
There are A LOT of My Yahoo users out there. I'm sure that I can't say exactly how many, but it's a big number. Most of those folks have no idea what RSS and Atom are. They really shouldn't need to. Many of them want their favorite content all in one place, which is why they starting using My Yahoo in the first place, and they happen to want it on the web.
Some folks might argue that the world just needs to learn about RSS, download and use a desktop aggregator, and so on. That's true for some people, but probably not the majority. My parents, for example, don't care about the various technologies that make their e-mail work. They just want e-mail. They don't know about HTML either. They just want to use the web.
So this new version of My Yahoo tries to get us closer to the point that it Just Works. To make content discovery easier, there are multiple ways to find feeds: search, a small directory, a list of popular feeds, and even some editor's picks.
Is it perfect? No. Of course not. But it's a big improvement over the module we launched at the beginning of the year. Customization is more flexible, there are a ton of UI improvements, the searchable database of feeds is much larger.
Not for Everyone
If you're already using a desktop aggregator and like all the features it provides, I don't expect you'll switch. You're an advanced user. You probably don't realize it, but you are. There's part of the population that does all of their e-mail using web-based mail services only. To others, that seems insane. The same will likely be true of web-based vs. desktop-based aggregators.
I fully expect folks to compare Yahoo to Bloglines. It seems a logical comparison, since Bloglines is an on-line RSS aggregator (and a damned fine one at that). But My Yahoo isn't simply an RSS aggregator. It's still about pulling together lots of information into a single place. And not all of that information is available via RSS.
So instead of thinking that My Yahoo has morphed into a low-end RSS aggregator, think of it this way: My Yahoo has adapted to handle RSS/Atom feeds in addition to all the other content that was previously available.
More to Come
Is this the end? Nope. There's more coming on this front. I won't say what, but I will say that we want to make this as easy as possible for new users--those unaccustomed to having hundreds of thousands of sources from which to choose.
- Yahoo pages to get touch-up (CNet)
- My Yahoo: Big RSS Embrace (John Battelle)
- My Yahoo Beta Launches, Cosmetic Changes to Yahoo Home Page (SearchEngineWatch blog)
- All new My Yahoo (Geeking with Greg)
- My Yahoo comes full circle (Rael Dornfest)
Posted by jzawodn at September 27, 2004 09:10 PM