Tags: yahoo



Tears in the rain

When I first heard that Yahoo were planning to bulldoze Geocities, I was livid. After I blogged in anger, I was taken to task for jumping the gun. Give ‘em a chance, I was told. They may yet do something to save all that history.

They did fuck all. They told Archive.org what URLs to spider and left it up to them to do the best they could with preserving internet history. Meanwhile, Jason Scott continued his crusade to save as much as he could:

This is fifteen years and decades of man-hours of work that you’re destroying, blowing away because it looks better on the bottom line.

We are losing a piece of internet history. We are losing the destinations of millions of inbound links. But most importantly we are losing people’s dreams and memories.

Geocities dies today. This is a bad day for the internet. This is a bad day for our collective culture. In my opinion, this is also a bad day for Yahoo. I, for one, will find it a lot harder to trust a company that finds this to be acceptable behaviour …despite the very cool and powerful APIs produced by the very smart and passionate developers within the same company.

I hope that my friends who work at Yahoo understand that when I pour vitriol upon their company, I am not aiming at them. Yahoo has no shortage of clever people. But clearly they are down in the trenches doing development, not in the upper echelons making the decision to butcher Geocities. It’s those people, the decision makers, that I refer to as twunts. Fuckwits. Cockbadgers. Pisstards.


We have some new location-centric toys to play with. Let the hacking commence.

Flickr has released its shapefiles dataset for free (as in beer, as in it would be nice if you mentioned where you got the free beer). These shapefiles are bounding boxes that have been generated by the action of humans correcting suggested place names for geotagged photos. Tom put this data to good use with his neighbourhood boundaries app.

Speaking of excellent location-driven creations by Tom, be sure to check out ; a little OS X app that updates your FireEagle location every five minutes by triangulating your position with Skyhook.

Meanwhile, in another part of Yahoo, has been released in Beta form. It looks very nifty indeed. Pass it some human-readable text and it will try to figure out what physical locations are mentioned in the text. You can help it along by using structured data like the and microformats, but it seems to be pretty good at natural language parsing. Christian has put together some good examples to illustrate his JavaScript Placemaker/YQL mashup.

Slowly but surely we’re heading towards a future where everything is geotagged.

The Death and Life of Geocities

They’re trying to keep it quiet but Yahoo are planning to destroy their Geocities property. All those URLs, all that content, all those memories will be lost …like tears in the rain.

Jason Scott is mobilising but he needs help:

I can’t do this alone. I’m going to be pulling data from these twitching, blood-in-mouth websites for weeks, in the background. I could use help, even if we end up being redundant. More is better. We’re in #archiveteam on EFnet. Stop by. Bring bandwidth and disks. Help me save Geocities. Not because we love it. We hate it. But if you only save the things you love, your archive is a very poor reflection indeed.

I’m seething with anger. I hope I can tap into that anger to do something productive. This situation cannot stand. It reinforces my previously-stated opinion that Yahoo is behaving like a dribbling moronic company.

You may not care about Geocities. Keep in mind that this is the same company that owns Flickr, Upcoming, Delicious and Fire Eagle. It is no longer clear to me why I should entrust my data to silos owned by a company behaving in such an irresponsible, callous, cold-hearted way.

What would Steven Pemberton do?

Update: As numerous Yahoo employees are pointing out on Twitter, no data has been destroyed yet; no links have rotted. My toys-from-pram-throwage may yet prove to be completely unfounded. Jim invokes , seeing parallels with amazonfail, so overblown is my moral outrage. Fair point. I should give Yahoo time to prove themselves worthy guardians. As a customer of Yahoo’s other services, and as someone who cares about online history, I’ll be watching to see how Yahoo deals with this situation and I hope they deal with it well (archiving data, redirecting links).

Like I said above, I hope I can turn my anger into something productive. Clearly I’m not doing a very good job of that right now.

Making contact

Today Yahoo announced the release of their Address Book API — previously only available internally and to selected partners. It follows on from Google’s Contacts Data API and I hope that this is one more nail in the coffin of the password anti-pattern.

Chris has expressed disappointment with the proprietary nature of the response formats and Dave also wishes there were more consistent APIs. It’s a fair point but the situation is still immeasurably better than logging in and scraping the individual address book services.

The sites that have so far abandoned the anti-pattern in favour of best practices are:

Meanwhile a whole bunch of otherwise-great services are still encouraging people to get phished:

The clock is ticking. There really isn’t any excuse any more for asking for my Yahoo Mail or GMail username and password.


After my long day in London on Tuesday, the last thing I felt like doing the next day was repeating the commute. That’s why I didn’t make it along to the first day of the developer summit at Yahoo’s London offices. It was mostly for Yahoo employees but Norm! was kind enough to invite a few outsiders along too.

I must have been suffering from presentation allergies on Thursday because, not only did I miss day two of the Yahoo summit in London, I didn’t even make it along to Widgety Goodness in Brighton. Then again, that might just have been because of the topic; widgets appear to be of great interest to marketers and advertisers but they’re of less interest to me. Still, it’s great to see another conference happening in Brighton.

On Friday, I finally made it up to the Yahoo HQ where I sat in some presentations. Nicole got a grilling on some of her ideas for writing CSS. Norm! passed some by-laws on template creation. I also watched on a talk on design patterns that included a slide that wasn’t intended for non-Yahoo employees. I told them that I could be bribed not to blog about it but they put forward the suggestion that they could just break my fingers instead. My lips are sealed.

The best was saved for last: a pub quiz! I played in a team of other non-assimilated attendees. We called ourselves The Interlopers! (the exclamation point is a mandatory part of our branding).

Norm! set the fiendishly nerdy questions. We did reasonably well on the picture round, naming browsers from seeing their logos. Another round involved naming rendering engines—I missed the chance for extra points when I misspelled as Tasmin. I hope that Tantek can forgive me. Our performance was nothing short of woeful on the dates round but, c’mon, how are we supposed to know the day that Yahoo acquired del.icio.us?

The nerdy standing of The Interlopers! was redeemed with the final question of the quiz, What is JPG? We were the only team to write down the correct answer: a magazine. That earned us a warm glow, handfuls of purple schwag and a place on the scoreboard that wasn’t shameful.

My thanks to the purple army for allowing me to play in their webdev games, drink their beer and learn their trade secrets.

Simon and Paul

Simon and Paul have finished giving their presentation and very good it was too. They covered a lot of ground in a short time but they did it in a clear, easy to follow way.

As is now mandatory, the presentation was illustrated with Flickr pics including one of mine, which I wasn’t expecting.

he guys did a good job of showing how useful APIs are from inside a huge company and from the evangelism they were doing, I expect to see Hack Days starting at other companies soon.

The talk flowed nicely into my presentation where I talked about APIs from the viewpoint of someone on the outside looking in. That’s no accident, of course: we planned the schedule that way. I think it worked out well.