Yahoo!

Purple Summer

For those who care, I will be working at Yahoo! Research in New York this summer. The offer letter just arrived in well designed (and very purple) packaging, with seventeen thousand million documents to sign. Nonetheless, I’m excited about working there!

| |

reaching out

  • Russel Davies painted his laptop to work as a blackboard. I think the acrylic casing for the iBook makes an excellent whiteboard too.
  • Friend and mentor Cong Yu just got an honorable mention in the SIGMOD Dissertation Award:
    …Two other nominees receive Honorable Mention recognizing their outstanding work on theoretical foundations and development of algorithms with great impact on important practical problems: Cong Yu, for his dissertation on “Managing Complex Databases in a Schema Management Framework” at the University of Michigan, and, Nilesh Dalvi, for his dissertation on “Managing Uncertainty Using Probabilistic Databases” at the University of Washington.

    It’s interesting to see the hiring trends : the Award was won by now-MSR researcher Ariel Fuxman. Nilesh and Cong are both Yahoo! Researchers.

  • Natalie Du Toit’s “wonderful story of courage, determination, discipline, hopes and dreams”, becoming the first amputee to qualify for the Olympics.
  • It’s not every day that the White House asks you to become a Vampire Slayer.

Flickr mobs

An interesting story has panned out at Flickr, which involves the stealing of a independent artist’s image by an agency, a flickr comment posted by the artist calling fans to send letters to the agency, the censoring of that comment by Flickr, culminating in the world calling Yahoo! Flickr the biggest known evil dictator censorship company since the prehistoric times. Here’s my view, sent as a letter to the artist:

——
Dear Rebekka,

Here’s something you wrote at the end of your letter:

So i encourage everyone that has been displaying similar landscape photos on flickr to look at their site and see if they see something suspicious.
It would also be pretty cool if as many people as possible would send them angry letters, (address them to info@only-dreemin.com ) but that’s just if you feel like it;)”

The first line is ok. The second line, you are actively calling for a mob to do wrong things. And if you look at reddit.com and digg.com, this is exactly what they are doing. In other words, that last line of yours has spurted a mob of angry people to send death threats to a company. Thousands of blog articles now are talking about how Flickr is a censoring company, how Yahoo sucks. Competitors with similar sounding names are voicing attacks to market their own product. And the funny thing is that most of these articles and opinions are either baseless or are completely false. And they were instigated by you. Using flickr.

Sending death threats to a company is wrong, even if they are caught stealing. The right way is to report them to the police.

However, this is not what your fans did. Furthermore, they did it based on your call for arms. And this sentence of yours was hosted at Flickr. In turn, this means that Flickr supports that sentence, that they are all in favor of harassing and sending angry letters.

While I can see that you are a talented photographer, and that it was very wrong to steal, you seem to have (knowingly or unknowingly) used your fame to fire a mob war. Note that you have used Flickr as your platform, and that they are just as responsible for letting you do this as you are.

Which is wrong — Flickr is a photo sharing site. It is not a union for photographers or a place to launch mob wars. All they did was stand by their own convictions of being a photo hosting site, and not your personal podium for war mongering.

Prior to this, I have NEVER heard of any censorship or willful harm done by Flickr to anybody. You seem to be an odd case, and I think it is in some part, if not all, due to your inciting messages which were taken too seriously by the internet.

I think it would be advisable to think about your actions in conjunction with Flickr’s actions, and then form an opinion on the service.

Also, I think you owe the crowds you have infuriated a message, telling them what you think of flickr, since they are right now burning down a beautiful community.

Regards,
Arnab

Note: I am an infrequent flickr user, and have been a user of their services since Ludicorp’s Game Never Ending times. I have very I am in no way associated or sympathize with any of the parties involved, and only care for the reduction of mob mentality on the internet. Hope you understand me and have read all of my email.
——

|

there goes flickr

Google introduces Picasa Web Albums : lots of nice things like image preloading, etc — I’m curious to see what the Yahoo Photos beta and Flickr have to offer in response to this.

|

yahoo babelfish

Yahoo Babelfish, from the acquisitions past. This one will take a while to register in my mind — everytime I think of the babelfish, AV comes to mind.

|

google and the yahoo fixation

Another Yahoo clone: Google Finance. The current mode of operation looks like this:

(1) Take a Yahoo! service.
(2) Clean up the UI, remove the ads
(3) Throw some search mojo at it to keep Google a “search company”
(4) Release it to the public.

There’s also part (5), where we watch the service crash repeatedly with cute messages (Orkut, PageCreator, Reader). So much for innovations in scalability. Considering what you expect from the big G, I’m still surprised how I’m yet to see a Yahoo! property ever get overwhelmed. I did once notice the whole of Y!Groups crash and reboot sometime last year, but that’s about it.

|

google whacking

Google recruiters are now using Yahoo 360 to recruit Yahoo Employees! Haha, very nice.

|

switch

From “Greg”:http://glinden.blogspot.com/2006/02/motivating-switching-from-google.html:

As Mike points out, one way to get people to switch is to be obviously better. That’s what Google did to Altavista to steal the crown.

No, that’s not true. The real reason Google is popular is because Yahoo! switched from Inktomi(in a way, AV) to Google as their search engine, complete with “powered by google” signage. So you have the #1 website on the Interweb telling everyone that Search = Google. Then, when search became important (because the Internet exploded in terms of content, and hence usefulness of web search), people had no trouble to switching from a huge portal to a dedicated search engine they already used.

prof. baeza-yates jumps on the y! bandwagon

(hat tip: solzaire)

Arnab’s Law of Information Retrieval: Every famous researcher in Information Retrieval will eventually be hired by Google, Yahoo! Research, or Microsoft Research :)

While Yahoo’s execs are throwing in the towel for search, I’m quite impressed by the research momentum the Y company is building up. And now they get Prof. Ricardo Baeza Yates on board as head of the new Y!Research Spain/Chile.

That brings the tally of Yahoo Research Locations to:

  • Pasadena (the Overture office, afaik Dr. Pennock sits here)
  • Bangalore (not really Y!R, but there is an R&D group here)
  • Berkeley
  • Santa Clara
  • New York
  • Burbank
  • Barcelona
  • Santiago

I’ve met Prof. Yates, he’s a really awesome guy. Looking forward to some interesting search query log work from him :)

google = y2.0

I was going to write about this, but Jeremy’s saved me the trouble: Google is building Yahoo! 2.0.

| |