Yahoo! on social interaction

After the coffee break and Bradley Horowitz is on the stage talking about social interaction. He says we have to move beyond the term “user” and turn them into “people”. He has a model for interaction where there are three types: creators, synthesisers and consumers and the ratio is 1:10:100 He sees his role as trying to make the ratio 1:1:1. The internet is democatising production.

He gave some examples of where Yahoo! was adding features which encourage people to interact with content:

“Interestingness” is a feature which has been added to Flickr since Yahoo! acquired it. Up to then the pictures were ordered by date. What makes a photo interesting? “We could have used voting, but we chose to look at things like how much it has been looked at, saved as a favourite, blogged about – implicit behaviour. This means it’s less susceptible to gaming, it was able to be used retrospectively on everything in the library “

Turning users into taggers. “Tagging is magic” – it’s not a new concept but what’s cool is that it is so easy. I can invent words. ZoneTag is a project where information from camera phones (location, time, identity) is used to auto tag. TagMaps is a research project which crosses a tag cloud with a map. This has been further filtered by time to show night views, for example.

Clustering using co-existence of tags in the system.

Pipes: He gave an example of wanting to find an apartment near to a day care centre. Currently this is difficult but with Pipes you can extract data from Craig’s List and Yahoo! Local and create a service to answer the question. “Pipes is moving you from a world where people sample to one where they synthesise”.

Q&A: he’s asked if there will be an API for Groups. Eventually, he says, but he says another big Yahoo! service will have an API released very soon. He wouldn’t say which …. even when pressed….

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