(Note: the views expressed here are my own, and not those of my employer.)

Home pages are dead. Yahoo! GeoCities should re-invent itself as a blog site.

Creating your own website (traditional homepage or blog) is, for most folks, an exercise in vanity and self-indulgence. “I’m John Smith, and here’s my kewl website! Aren’t I special and unique?”

Part of what makes publishing appealing is the fact that someone might be reading what you’re writing. It’s like getting to act in your very own 6th-grade play — people are watching you and they care what you say! (Or, at least we web authors are duped into thinking that someone cares.)

When homepages first became a big thing in 1996-1997, people created these multimedia atrocities. There are tons of GeoCities sites that are nothing more than a collection of blinking GIFs that they found somewhere else.

My guess is that folks eventually realized that compiling a bunch of images that you stole from other people’s sites doesn’t make for a very compelling reason to visit a website. And since most of us aren’t artists, it’s too difficult to create our own images. For an amateur, putting together a professional-looking website is no easy task. So many of these websites have gone stale.

Enter blogs in 2001-2002. Instead of being graphics- and design-heavy, they are text-heavy. This makes sense, because everyone knows how to write. (Well, everyone who is literate knows how to write.) And everyone knows what’s going on in their own life, too. So making an online journal suddenly doesn’t seem so difficult. And you’ve got incentive to keep it up-to-date, because you’ve got all of those loyal fans who are waiting for the latest installment of your very-exciting life! To extend my 6th-grade play analogy, it’s like performing in that play every single day!

Adding blogs to Geocities has significant costs. Aside from having to develop a whole bunch of new software, they’ll have more customers using GeoCities’ resources. Constantly changing content and archiving means more disk space and more pageviews because people are reading that content more frequently. Of course, GeoCities really would need to provide RSS feeds (this is de rigueur in the blogging world) and these feeds will be polled by robots, which will increase server load even more. So Geocities might need to beef up its resources to handle the increased demand from customers. And then there’s the whole customer support issue…

Even so, a blog service would be a win for Yahoo! in the long run. Feeling some compulsion to keep your blog up-to-date is sorta like email — it’s very “sticky”. That means increased customer loyalty, which is always a good thing in the business world (even if it costs you some money).

8 thoughts on “

  1. Jeremy Zawodny's blog

    Yahoo! Weblogs

    There’s been some discussion recently about weblogs at Yahoo. It’s not the first time, but it came up again. My co-worker Michael Radwin (who hasn’t enabled TrackBack so that I can link this entry to his) posted his views recently.

  2. Brilliant Corners

    Yahoo! weblogs?

    Two other Yahoo!s have posted their ideas for the company to get into the blogging arena: Michael Radwin and Jeremy Zawodny. I’ve thought about the same thing for a while, but I don’t see Yahoo! jumping on the weblog boat just yet, if ever. Unless th…

  3. havi h.

    sheesh, funny how some ideas stay alive. a couple years ago a couple of us in-house writers tried to pitch weblogs to the then current powers that were. we thought it’d be cool to save, after the bust when they couldn’t pay for hosting. instead they found a savior in trellix, dan “visicalc” bricklin’s personal publishing product company. (this is more or less as i remember it, not entirely fact-checked). executive level response: “what’s a weblog?” i still think it’s a good idea, but… i’ll bet the executive level response would be about the same.

    but, maybe we could build a blog template add-on as a premium feature in one of the higher end new y! webhosting packages (rss and all), since it is more expensive than dead, static pages.

    if you build an internal demo, count me in. i’m a total info forager, and i’d love to post, and keep the conversation going.

  4. John DeBruyn

    Hi guys:

    Yahoo could take a very small step and put some steam into its YahooGroups by building upon the blog-like section of each discussion group’s home page which is headed “Most Recent Messages.” This section is a almost a blog-style listing of the messages, newest first, but with just the subject line and first line of the body of each message.

    Yahoo could make the “Most Recent Messages” section more blog-like by including in addition to the subject line the first several lines of each message which would give the reader a better idea of what was being said.

    Besides more lines for each message, Yahoo could consider giving the group’s owner the option of:

    1) reversing possition of the body of the description–the 2000 character space about the group–with the MRM section making it the most important part of the page.

    2) dropping messages out of the first five so that

    there would be only be one message representative of each thread or series of messages with the same subject line.

    3) freezing the messages displayed, so that new messages would back up waiting to move into the five that are displayed, only those selected by the owner would be displayed and the others could be deselected.

    4) editing text and/or selecting which 4 or so lines of the message are to be displayed.

    5) permit the owner to have others with moderator priveleges limited to tweaking the weblog display and description of message threads.

    John, John DeBruyn

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