Thoughts on Y! 360

[Disclaimer: I’m a Yahoo! employee, so you should run everything I say through that filter. It could be that I’m just kissing the butt of my employer. It could also happen that my opinions are sincerely held, but my perceptions are seriously skewed by where I get my kool-aid from. I didn’t work on the 360 project, though, and learned about it pretty much the way everyone else is learning about it.]

Disclaimers out of the way, I’m impressed so far with Y! 360, and cautiously predict that it will be widely adopted, especially by existing Y! users.

The adoption rate will be positively affected by two things, IMHO:
o It’s hella easy to use — it has the quickest and easiest route from new arrival to first blog post of any such service I’ve seen.

o The “Why would I check back?” question has a good answer. The default view on login shows recent new activity by friends, sorted by recency, and “activity” includes both blog posts and additions to fave lists, etc. Other social networking services I’ve checked out have been vulnerable to the mildly disappointing user experience of logging in only to find that you’re connected to the same number of friends you were when you checked last time, with no new information arriving. The combination of making it easy to add new content _and_ forefronting interesting new content to friends is really important, I think. There has to be some multiplicative positive-feedback kind of effect there — if you get it right, there could be a very virtuous cycle of users visiting, seeing new content from their friends, being inspired to (easily) respond with content of their own, and so on.

Other social-networking sites have focused on the network effect of building the graph of friends, but have not focused so much on forefronting interesting and novel data from that graph. The lesson, I suspect, is that such services cannot afford to let _any_ interesting change in a user’s social neighborhood remain unreported (modulo privacy restrictions), and that skill in reporting change may dominate other positive features.

People have asked for some features like RSS import and photo-sharing via Flickr — I have no inside knowledge, but have to assume that there are Y! people moving ahead with such features. There are also some annoying user-interface issues, like displaying ‘0’ as the year whenever users have declined to specify dates for employment histories and the like — I have to hope that these are being addressed.

So if I’m positive overall, why am I writing about Y! 360 here, rather than on Y! 360? The answer is that (like Joyce) I plan to take advantage of the friends-only access controls for the Y! 360 blog. Going forward, this will be my public blog, and I will use Y! 360 for posts that I want to keep in the inner circle. This particular review seemed innocuous enough to post widely — if you’re my friend and you want to know what I really think about some other topics, then let’s meet up over there.

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