Yahoo! Directory is a bit like the shark. It has been around pretty much as long as the modern commercial web. Yahoo! was among the first online media companies. Whilst peers like Lycos and Excite disappeared Yahoo! managed to survive. The name Yahoo! is actually an acronym: Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle. Yahoo! started as a list of interesting links to sites, these then needed to be categorised as it grew and the first iteration of Yahoo! was as a directory.
Yahoo! then expanded its service offering with a portal, email, shopping, auctions, celebrity chats and specialist kids content. Directories were the forerunner of search as they provided editor-driven categories. In 1998, Netscape went into competition with Yahoo! with its own directory, which now exists as DMOZ – an open directory hosted by Aol and run by volunteer editors. DMOZ has catalogued 4,167,366 sites in over a million categories over 16 years. It became obvious that human editors couldn’t scale.
Even when consumers went away to the search box of Alta Vista HotBot and Google, the Yahoo! Directory served a secondary purpose. As a repository of ‘screened and categorised’ websites algorithmic search engines took entry in a number of directories into account as part of their ranking for sites. Directories became important to search agencies.
When I worked at Yahoo! during the start of the web 2.0 period, tagging and its role in social search was considered to be reflective of Yahoo!’s past in directories and offered a future that was not solely dependent on the dictatorship of an algorithm. Social search promised a blended approach.
Over the past decade Yahoo! Search and Google both gradually depreciated the importance of a directory entry for search ranking as other signalling factors took over including social mentions.
A lot of digital marketers have lived with Yahoo! Directory for a long time. The shutdown of Yahoo!’s original service comes at a turning point for the company. It looks as if Yahoo! is about to be torn apart as Wall Street tries to get it to liquidate its holdings in Yahoo! Japan and Alibaba; return the cash to them and pick over the rest of the assets like a dead carcass on the Serengeti.
Progress Report: Continued Product Focus | Yahoo! Corporate Tumblr account
The Yahoo Directory — Once The Internet’s Most Important Search Engine — Is To Close | SearchEngineLand
Yahoo killing off Yahoo after 20 years of hierarchical organisation | Ars Technica
Yahoo Directory, once the center of a web empire, will shut down at year’s end | The Verge
Google and the Right to Be Forgotten | New Yorker – gives a Europe is from Mars, America is from Venus context to the story
The Myth of the “Maxxinista” — Medium – I remember seeing baskets in Shenzhen for Woolworths as it then was complete with price reduced sales tags before they had even left the factory
DOCOMO, SYSTRAN and FueTrek Form Joint Venture to Develop Translation Services | NTT DOCOMO – interesting move
Twitter UK consumer behaviour infographic – data from Nielsen
The Power Paradox Facing Xi and Modi: Seize Control to Give It Away | Caixin – interesting article in Caixin
Hong Kong’s share of Chinese GDP | Marginal Revolution – interesting economic data given current circumstances
Oil overflow: As prices slump, producers grapple with a new reality – The Globe and Mail – peak demand?
#HeyASIO, forgot my Gmail login. Text me? | Sydney Morning Herald – good idea not to put your data centres in Australia
Faith in ‘one country, two systems’ plunges in latest HK survey | WantChinaTimes – there seems to be a schism in the way Hong Kong has broken with China from a consumer attitude point-of-view
Microsoft CEO Visited Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, Mi Pad Windows Tablet Or Xiaomi Windows Phone?- doubtful given Xiaomi’s eco-system. Most likely knowing your enemy, looking for possible common ground and gaining insight through the eyes of others. It could be about Microsoft’s patent claims on Android or about web services for international markets – Bing as default search engine outside China for Xiaomi?
ZTE’s ‘smart voice alliance’ to take on Apple, Google and Microsoft | WantChinaTimes – will ZTE be able to extend into services?
I bumped into some former colleagues over the past couple of weeks and the experience reminded me of a lot of the items in this post. Given the circling activist investors surround the current iteration of Yahoo! this maybe a capsule of a soon-to-disappear culture.
You know that Yahoo! was the brand and Yahoo was a person who worked for Yahoo!
You were told that you bleed purple.
You have an address book full of friends and aquantances working at great companies in digital media. The business was a rotating door for talent, in six months you had a great Rolodex full of contacts.
Your have an old brand Yahoo! laptop bag that just won’t die. Not too sure what they made those Timbuk2 bags from but mine is eight years old, well travelled and still looks new.
Friends introduce you to former colleagues you were less familiar with by including their IM identity as well as their name.
You still have a star kicking around in a box somewhere from when you packed up your desk one last time.
Your colleagues gave you a list of tchotchkes to get from the shop in building D if you went to the headquarters campus in Sunnyvale.
You’re still using at least one of Jerry and David’s Christmas presents around the house.
My week was dominated by Social Media Week. I got to see Battenhall’s opening presentation and catch up former colleagues from past agency and in-house lives. I am gutted that I didn’t get to see Ogilvy’s presentation on Twitter cards so will have to make do with Slideshare: