Yahoo! MapMixer is Cool

Just as it was becoming clear this week that Yahoo! Co-Founder Jerry Yang’s first “100 days” as CEO isn’t setting up to be all that, a stream of new toys, deals, and partnerships have been announced. MapMixer is a product of Yahoo! Hack Day, according to TechCrunch and Reuters, and as you can see above, it enables you to overlay graphics on Yahoo! Maps (above is the USC campus, zoom out for full effect). Of course, not everything scales so nicely (see the Chicago ‘L’ map).

Yahoo is seeking more applied ingenuity and is pronouncing it’s “openness.” (NOTE: Jeremy Zawodny posted a much-better-written rebuttal/addendum to the BizWeek article on his blog.)

Is this real or a back-against-the-wall reaction to the apparent leak of a Google in-house video purporting a confluence of Google apps in a streamlined Facebook platform sort-of-way? Was Page and Brin’s $1.3 million landing at NASA’s Moffett Field near the Google HQ merely a decoy to overshadow speculation on the video? Is it true that there’s a bubble keeping the fog and cold bay air out of Silicon Valley?

The real big deal for Yahoo! this week was the announcement of a hefty deal to serve ads for Bebo, one of the most popular social networking sites in the UK (and a oft-rumored acquisition interest of Yahoo).

Also, tonight marks the launch of a partnership with in which one item per night is featured on Yahoo! Shopping for purchase at

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Facebook Profiles Go Public

The next step on Facebook’s staircase to ubiquity further breaks down the site’s once fortress-like barrier, but it may eventually bring in more ad value for F8 app developers.

While the optional opening up of search may seem like an inevitable move, is it so necessary to practically spam every search engine with profiles? By joining the site did you agree to — as Om Malik put it — put your name in a veritable White Pages for the Web?


Facebook’s first “public offering” was last September, when it opened up the site to registrants regardless of their affiliation with a university or high school. Originally a .edu e-mail address was a mandatory prerequisite to register for the site. This, understandably, led to privacy and safety concerns, multiplied by the addition of the now-widely-accepted News Feed, which would broadcast your activities and postings on the site to your friends. Perhaps Facebook is comfortable that one long year of social network growth and adoption — along with a handful of freaky MySpace horror stories — has made the masses more aware of Facebook’s privacy settings.

Only the users name and photo will be accessible via a frontpage search, according to Facebook’s Philip Fung, who looks no older than 17 despite being an apparent graduate of both Cal Tech and Stanford. The blog post reminds users that multiple levels of privacy settings can prevent searchability and access — it would also be nice if Facebook sent e-mails to users who may not be logging on regularly.

The big play for Facebook here is opening up to search engines. By exposing the info (presumably just names) of its users (upwards of 30 million and counting), it’s Google Page Rank will skyrocket, and every individual user will find their profile near the top of a name search (something that could very well be a kick in the face of LinkedIn — I was told at one job interview that it was easier to find my LinkedIn profile than to find my resume).

The word “public” alone get the valley and the street even more worked up over the still-privately-held social networking / platform?

Facebook users one year ago perceived — and sudden — impediments on privacy. But this doesn’t seem to be such a big deal — most anyone with their name and photo on facebook most likely has it publicly listed elsewhere. Still, Zuckerberg and Co. should edumacate the masses and continue to be very straightforward about the changes and the various, easily tweaked privacy settings available for each user.

So better tidy up that Facebook profile now, because soon enough it won’t just be your mom’s friends finding your profile, it could be a potential or soon-to-be former employer.

facebook public profile

Back to My Blogging Roots

mirror lake, yosemiteOn hiatus this weekend at Yosemite and very much recalling my travels of yesteryear. I hope to take advantage and get out some next month in between interviews for the NextBigGig in my oh-so-linear mission to save the world (at least a little (ok, microscopic) bit, every day).

The Wall Street Journal, of all publications, wished a Happy Blogiversary to all — declaring the 10th anniversary of the blog, complete with videoi and top billing in the editor’s picks sidebar. And somewhere, Rupert Murdoch is smiling, or perhaps this is just a sign that Dow Jones truly is in his back pocket. OK, it actually is a cool feature, check it out, but I don’t see where it admits to WSJ’s blogibviousness… only WSJ’s LawBlog is a regular read in my newsfeed, and it’s been around less than two years. It appears there are more here. But it seems nothing existed at before late May of last year, according to (Am I missing something?) Nice of them to acknowledge blog, of course — even if it’s just the Saturday paper. I always thought Justin Hall was credited as the first “blogger,” circa 1994, but whatever.

My first attempt at blogging was 8 summers ago. I was teaching English in Ecuador and documenting my experiences and travels for myself, my family and friends. It was pretty outstanding, circa 1999, being able to hit a cybercafe in virtually any city in South America on the cheap, and most served beer (a pleasure I rarely enjoyed again before I moved to San Francisco for this summer where there are places such as Bean Bag Cafe — with microbrews on tap for $1.50 and free wi-fi).

With the help of one BJ Freeman, I set up some archaic message board on this Web site (Click to see the remnants of this message board and posts — I can only find the European 2000 stuff), in hopes of spurring conversation and comments on my travels and thoughts. Of course, since many didn’t understand the “blog” concept — which was what it was in principle, but not in name — I had to simultaneously send my dispatches in the form of mass e-mails (bcc style). I continued this practice — after virtually breaking the discussion board format — kinda like this.

Click here for photos and commentary from Yosemite.

The LA Fire Department and Web 2.0

My interview with LAFD Public Service Officer Brian Humphrey is live at LAist. Thanks, Brian for taking the time to geek out with me for a bit re: the LAFD’s cutting edge experiments and efforts in making full use of ubiquitous Internet connectivity to provide the ultimate in public service.

Read the interview here.

Also, congrats to Assignment Zero for having its first series of crowdsourced articles (on crowdsourcing) published in Wired.

I don’t know whether or not my interview with Newsvine CEO Mike Davidson will make it into Wired, but either way, it was a great experience writing and editing for the project and I look forward to collaborating again in the future!