Ever since Yahoo! released its Shortcuts plugin for WordPress I’ve been wondering what Yahoo!’s role in the blogosphere is. The plugin is developed for Yahoo! by Alex King who wrote an impressive amount of popular WordPress plugins. Will this plugin become another success? Responses seem to mixed and vary from “Please God, no more pop-up links” to “Very Cool!”
The plugin allows bloggers to easily add Yahoo! content to their blog posts. It scans your post for related material from Yahoo’s Flickr Photos (with a Creative Commons License), Maps, Financial Information, Products, Autos, News and Web Search. You can decide which content you want to include and in what form, as a pop-up link or an integrated badge. This plugin may be useful for bloggers who are looking for an easy way to “enhance” their blog posts by adding a Flickr photo or a map to their post. I am all for enriching blog posts with pictures and other useful visual or textual information but not this way. I like creating my own content and even though it does not directly offer advertisements it feels like I am selling Yahoo!’s links and products.
It is interesting that Yahoo! decided to primarily develop this plugin for WordPress although it states that it will probably be available for other platforms as well. What other platforms will that be and what will Yahoo!’s own new platform look like?
Yahoo! currently offers a blogging service through it’s Yahoo! 360° portal. In October Yahoo! announced that the 360° portal will close down in favor of “a universal profile system” that offers “will include improved blogging capabilities” in early 2008. Yahoo! itself however seems to be using WordPress for a lot of its product blogs, including its official company blog and the Flickr blog. It makes you wonder what Yahoo!’s priorities in creating “improved blogging capabilities” are after shutting down their blogging service.
What will this new universal profile system look like? The recently released MyBlogLog About Me widget, which provides “pointers to your various profiles that exist across the web,” seems to be a first step. It wants to provide a single reference point for your scattered web presence. It currently offers 35 services that you can add to your widget but what if you want to add other services as well? It does not offer any flexibility in adding other services which prevents you from really creating your own personal widget.
Yahoo! has an impressive product list with a few interesting blog-related products but I feel that they are lacking a focus. If they really want to build this universal profile system then MyBlogLog is their strongest asset. But what about their 360° bloggers and nearly forgotten Yahoo! blog products such as the ping server blo.gs?
What do you think about Yahoo!’s role in the blogosphere? Should they just concentrate on the social networking side of blogging or do they have a chance at building new blogging services?
Anne is a New Media Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She participates as a blog researcher in the newly found Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam. Anne also writes about blogging and academics on her personal blog and the collaborative Masters of Media blog.