Yahoo Launches My Web 2.0

In the next evolution of search engines, Google and Yahoo both announced new versions of their personalized search efforts. Google launched their personalized search. And moments ago, Yahoo launched My Web 2.0 (screenshot). Caterina announced it first on Flickr.

I was invited to a private demo of My Web 2.0 at the Yahoo campus a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been beta-testing since then. Aside from the awkward name, I’m impressed. At the very least, it blows Google’s offering out of the water, and follows in a recent trend of Yahoo’s smart moves and acquisitions.

My initial impression was that it was, depressingly, a Del.icio.us killer. (I later changed my mind; more on that later.) It lets you share bookmarks with a clean interface, and it supports tagging and annotation, RSS feeds, and an open API. But My Web 2.0 improves on other social bookmarking services in two very important ways:

1. Social networking. With My Web 2.0, you can decide to share individual bookmarks with the world, limit them to only your social network, or keep them private. The application of this is in browsing and searching pages that your friends (and their friends) bookmarked. If you’re looking for a restaurant recommendation or product review, for example, their bookmarking history and annotations are very useful input. If your friends actually use it, this becomes an essential way to search the web.

2. Search. Because Yahoo’s indexed nearly every webpage you can bookmark, users are able to search the full-text of every webpage they’ve ever indexed, instead of just the bookmark name, description and URL.

After mulling it over, I don’t think that My Web 2.0 and sites like Del.icio.us are mutually exclusive. Because they both have open APIs, it’s very possible to export your Del.icio.us bookmarks to My Web 2.0 for searching functionality or use a third-party service that posts to both. More importantly, they feel different and will likely be used for different purposes. Matt has some thoughts on what makes each unique.

And because it’s Yahoo, their massive user base potentially translates into a huge network effect. As more people use the service, the more invaluable it becomes for everyone.

The first post to their new blog has a brief To-Do list of upcoming features, but it doesn’t mention the three important items that were raised during the beta testing. First, tagging, saving, and annotating bookmarks should all be done inline within search results. The popup windows stink. Second, there should be no distinction between Yahoo’s normal search and My Web 2.0 search. It should simply be “Search.” Finally, using the social network tools should require only the bare minimum of interaction with Yahoo 360. 360 is too bulky for something as simple as managing a contact list.

These issues aside, Phil brought up the issue of context. Does bookmarking make sense in the context of searching the entire web? Does your social network have enough breadth to make a dent in normal search queries? Maybe not, and if casual web users don’t see the immediate benefit to themselves, they may never start to participate. If so, the network effect may never materialize. We’ll see.

For Yahoo and Google, the benefits are clear. By collecting aggregate information about bookmarked sites, they’ll be able to increase the relevancy of their search results and marginally combat the spam problem. And if their users get hooked on social bookmarks, they’ll be locked in forever.

Update: Yahoo’s announcement. Also, commentary by Ross Mayfield, Matt Haughey, Jeremy Zawodny.

16 thoughts on “Yahoo Launches My Web 2.0

  1. I’m not convinced as to why this would not be a Del.icio.us killer.. except that it may take Del.icio.us users a while to switch over especially if Yahoo doesn’t make it easier to post links on My Web 2.0. For now, their bookmarklet doesn’t fill in the page details.

    Regarding a separate search for Web 2.0, the reason could be that (1) you want to search for something you know you’ve tagged; (2) you want to see what people in your community have considered worthy of tagging regarding a topic.

    On a related note, I will be curious to see if this leads to more people getting into social bookmarking. I recently sent around a note to 100+ friends offering a Yahoo 360 invitation and only two responded. I have very few friends (outside of the Web world) who use such services. No one (again, outside my geek circles) I talk to has ever heard of del.icio.us or knows the concept of social bookmarking. Sometimes I feel like we live in a bubble (it’s a fun and useful bubble, but it’s still somewhat isolated from the majority of users.. or the majority of users are isolated from our helpful tools). It’ll be interesting to see if/when the spread of such advanced tools takes off past the super Web-savvy community.

  2. Sorry for the second post, I forgot one more point. One of the most important features in del.icio.us (in my opinion:) is that you can see how many other people and who exactly links to the page you just tagged. I don’t see this on Web 2.0, but perhaps I’m missing it. (Maybe at this early stage there aren’t enough users for there to be overlapping links.)

  3. eszter, you may want to try clicking on the most popular links in your community or in the everyone section of the my web home page.

  4. You mention the RSS interface. I get

    The following errors were detected:

    service temporarily unavailable

    everytime. Were you able to get valid RSS? I’ve been trying every few hours with non success.

  5. I wonder if it’s going to be as “customizable” as My Yahoo! is for SBC subscribers and have that ugly ass SBC blue banner shoved at the top no matter what you do?

  6. Andy, nice write-up. The mass network effect will be interesting to watch. New kinds of tagging useage scenarios will emerge as millions of kids use tags to organize and share their finds.

    I think del.icio.us will continue to be a good filter for “our community” as the new users will choose to tag through YHOO, GOOG, AOL, etc.

  7. Thanks for the great writeup, Andy! I am very excited about this new offering from the gang at Y! and just can’t wait to get in there and play around with it. 🙂

  8. Hm, I’m curious though on building my community. The only option seems to be to include people who are friends that I have e-mail addresses for. What if I wanted to join, for example, Andy’s community and view his bookmarks. I respect his collection of bookmarks probably more than anyone I know and would really appreciate the ability to search out what he has, but there’s no way of creating casual links (similar to flickr) to people it seems, only tightly knit communities.

  9. I don’t see this on Web 2.0, but perhaps I’m missing it. (Maybe at this early stage there aren’t enough users for there to be overlapping links.)

  10. Has anyone figured a way to carry the data on Version 1 Yahoo My Web to Version 2 please? I can’t see Yahoo maintaining both versions long term and my wealth of pages saved on Version 1 I want saved – preferably to Version 2.

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