Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A web on your behalf

In a scramble to stay afloat, websites are tailoring content to user preferences. Everyone is doing it in some way, but Yahoo!, which is intensely feeling the heat of the competition, is on an overdrive to harness the power of the social content. It’s trying its best to be different by pegging its vision to bring meaning, as different from relevance, to the web.

“We would like to be the trusted broker on the internet, where the user will control everything, where web will be, not on your request but, on your behalf,” says Blake Irving, Executive Vice-President and Chief Product Officer, Yahoo!. He sees “meaning” more personal and deeper than “relevance”.

As part of a slew of improvisations, Yahoo! has rolled out a “refreshed’ homepage that has customized content -- meaning, when logged in, different users see different contents. It works on an algorithm called CORE or Content Optimization and Relevance Engine, developed by R&D team in India. “It understands the user’s reading pattern and provides a fare closer to what the user likes,” said Shouvick Mukherjee, VP & CEO Yahoo! India R&D at a demonstration of the product.

Another innovation is “Conversations”. Here you start a discussion by posting a comment to a group of friends, who get notified via email. As they join, their jottings appear on top of the article. Unlike the conventional comments at the end of the article, this is a discussion within a group; and the conversations are visible only to those who are part of it.

Blake Irving describes this as Real social networking. “The model that will survive is not broadcast social, like what Facebook is, where you don’t want to share information with 1,500 people. The model we are building is one that is around groups of people with content that you care about; where you can share, for example, an extreme political view with a group that has similar views or with people you feel comfortable having an argument with.” The premise is content will be “meaningful” when conversation is private as against with an entire friend’s list as on Facebook.

Alongside customization, Yahoo! is scaling up video quality using the Publishing Platform developed by the Bangalore R&D team. The hassle of buffering is overcome with Adaptive Streaming, Transcoding and caching that reduce congestion by factoring networking conditions and device feedback. “Though videos are hosted from Singapore, its caching servers in Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi, give users better experience,” said Suresh Hosakoppal, Vice-President, Service Engineering & Operations.

1 comment:

  1. with content that you care about; where you can share, for example, an extreme political view with a group that has similar views or with people you feel comfortable having an argument with.

    The above can invite the wrath of the authorities if they decide to clamp down on the freedom of speech. One will only have a wrong sense of privacy and can be pulled up for speaking your mind. If you remember, both facebook and google gave up the user info when authorities asked for it.

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