Home Yahoo! to Rewire for Social Graph and Data Portability

Yahoo! to Rewire for Social Graph and Data Portability

Yahoo! announced today at the Web 2.0 Expo the availability of the first program in its large vision for a dramatic overhaul of the company across all its properties. The Search Monkey developer platform will let site owners alter their search results listing, including through semantic markup. Mark Hendrickson at TechCrunch has an in-depth review of that platform.

Search Monkey is just the first of many steps that Yahoo! discussed today. CTO Ari Balogh said that the entire company was rewiring, across all its properties, in the spirit of the social graph and data portability. Flickr’s influence was tangible. Here’s a high-level overview of some of the biggest changes.

Installable Apps

It’s all about the platforms and conference organizer Brady Forrest was kind enough to reference our post yesterday on what comes next after APIs and platforms are ubiquitous in his introduction of the Yahoo! CTO. Sure enough, Yahoo! has its own vision for what comes next and it’s a pretty good looking plan.

Yahoo! will soon allow developers to write apps that work easily across every property in the company. Hosting will be offered or the apps can live off-site. When a user ads an application, they’ll be asked which of the Yahoo! sites they want that app to be installed on. This will include the front page of Yahoo! – which will soon host 3rd party apps. Look out Facebook.

Those apps will include an event stream (ala FriendFeed/Facebook Newsfeed/MySpace friend activity feed) that’s prioritized by topic area and social graph. The activities of your sports friends will appear on the Yahoo Sports page, your closest email buds will be surfaced on Yahoo! Mail.

You might not feel like you have a well developed social graph across Yahoo! but think about Flickr, Upcoming.org and Del.icio.us. Let’s see Yahoo! acquire Twitter or FriendFeed and then we’ll really be talking.

Continued below adorable Search Monkey preview splash screen shot.

The Social

Social graph data, or prioritized friends lists, will serve as the relevance filter for the apps that operate across Yahoo. Back in November we discussed this strategy in a post about the Inbox 2.0 strategy titled Yahoo! Says the Future Will be Modeled on Facebook.

While Facebook stagnates, struggles with app spam and looks more like MySpace every day though – FriendFeed has taken center stage in experimenting with friend activity data, friend of a friend conversations, friend recommendation and prevention of information overload.

Yahoo will do that type of work, but will also leverage its work with in the Identity and Data Portability communities. Users will be given extensive control over where they share their data, something Facebook for example says it is focusing on before it can make Data Portability real.

Yahoo! users will have a single unified identity across all Yahoo! properties. I was sitting next to Kaliya Hamlin, known as Identity Woman, when this was announced and asked her how that sounded. She said that if a unified identity was a requirement, that would be bad, if they were an option that would be ideal, and if they were “toggleable” (like multiple personas) that would be ideal. I agree.

There’s a whole lot of potential here and Yahoo! has really been engaged in the Identity world in particular. If they can make a few radical steps and perhaps a few key acquisitions – then social graph + 3rd party apps + semantified search indexing could make the user experience at Yahoo! very, very compelling. Coincidentally, or not, these moves were very close to what our own super-prescient Josh Catone called on Yahoo! to do almost a year ago.

It is a really tall order to fill, but with the infusion of so many smart people into Yahoo! after years of acquisitions like Flickr – a company wide rewiring seems relatively plausible.

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