Thank goodness that Danny Sullivan is around to take a balanced look at Yahoo. There’s a lot of nonsensical talk – bordering on hate – around Yahoo at the moment. And that makes me wonder whether there isn’t something deeper to it.
One of the mildet ones, but fairly typical, is this one, from FriendFeed:
"Personally I could care less what happens to Yahoo they have been a non
player for me for years. The only thing I use that they own is Flickr
and even that I dont use that much."
You see, Yahoo isn’t edgy. It’s not producing huge, exciting, Web 20000.0 sites that give away everything and let the chattering classes… well, chatter. They do email, and search, and maps, and all the really unsexy stuff. What cool stuff they do – Flickr, Fire Eagle, Upcoming – tends to not get marketed under the Yahoo brand, or minimally so.
Being the old lag that I am, I’ve seen this kind of attitude before. Back in the 1990’s, there was this grouping that tended to call itself – often completely without irony – "the digerati"1.
One thing they hated with a passion was AOL, which was wildly successful at the time. The reason why they hated it so much wasn’t because it was a walled garden – they hated it even more when it started to "pollute" "their" internet – but because ordinary people, people who weren’t "The Wired", used it. And they used it for chat rooms, and email, and simple stuff. They had stupid conversations, netsex, and sent instant messages around. In short, they used the sacred technology – computer networks – for base, nasty things.
I think that some of the hate given to Yahoo comes from much the same source, for which there’s a simple word in English – "snobbery". Some of the kind of folk who spend all their time on Twitter, who think that FriendFeed is god’s gift to the internet, and who have dumped Facebook now it’s popular are snobs. They don’t like Yahoo because it’s used by People Who Aren’t Like Them – ordinary people.
Yahoo isn’t cool, it’s not Web 2.0 – but it’s popular and profitable. And I think think those two facts will see it through, no matter how the New Digerati might sneer.
1. The Digerati were satirised by my friend – and now Valleywag editor – Owen Thomas on his site Ditherati. Given that Ditherati first started in June 1997, that makes the site one of the earliest blogs – typically, this is usually forgotten in the "official" history of blogging.