Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Yahoo Strikes Back with Blogs and Podcasts

This morning I have read two news stories about Yahoo and experimented with the two websites referenced within the articles.

It seems that Yahoo is getting back into the game of internet portal business in a very big way.  One article referenced how Yahoo rather "lost its way" when Google surpassed them as the most visited search engine and now that the entire internet industry is focusing on enabling individual people to create and publish content online via blogs and podcasts.

Since Apple released the iPod, everyone on the cutting edge has been focused on podcasts.  A company like Apple can take an obscure technology and make it more digestible for the mainstream society to accept it.  Apple initially reduced the risk for a lot of people with podcasts and today's news about Yahoo is going to reduce the learning curve even more.

Let's take a look at how Yahoo is going to add to the world of blogging and blogs.

The AP reported this morning that Yahoo Adds Blogs to Its News Section and the addition is one that flies in the face of Google's logic in eliminating blogs from its regular search results as much as it possibly can and to create a separate search page if you want to search for a topic within unknown blogs in particular.

Yahoo is allowing people to look for topics and information within blogs on its NEWS PAGE within its search results.  This means that for any topic or keywords imaginable, you can find out what individual people are blogging about that very same topic or using those keywords within their blogs.

This distinction is extremely notable for Yahoo essentially recognizes anyone who blogs about a topic as credible as professional journalists .

The same discussions that have taken place over the history of mankind will clearly resurface.  The issue fundamentally boils down to asking the question of who is more credible:  the supposed professional who went to school to study a subject and completed some type of formal apprenticeship process; or someone else more than likely highly fascinated by a topic, potentially self-taught, very more than likely an early adopter within the industry surrounding the topic, and extremely possible first on the scene or quickly rushed to the scene (online or offline) based upon their intimate knowledge of the subject being discussed at hand.

But I have been on both sides of the table to know that whenever people are eating good food that they do not always ask where the cook went to college but rather how good the food really is.

The challenge for those who went through formal training and education programs is to know that their importance to the industry has not been diminished and their significance has actually increased through more people talking and sharing knowledge and information about the topic.

But the costs to participate or be recognized as an expert within any topic have gone down tremendously.  Only those endeavors which require significant amounts of capital may potentially exclude some people from participating but not from sharing their opinions and research on the matter.  One critical role that does not distinguish the professional from the amateur is one photography plays.

No one really is concerned whether a photo of a news story is a paid professional or not as long as the photo is true, accurate, and not staged.  The same applies to the reporting of other news events as well.

Yahoo also offers bloggers a way to submit their blog to be potentially included within the search results and this is nothing short of being noted as worthwhile to any blogger or searcher for information on a topic.

The other news being reported today is that Yahoo is offering resources regarding podcastsThe fastest benefit recognized is that people will know where to look even if they have not downloaded or listened to a podcast yet.  This clearly helps anyone who has already created a podcast or simply has only blogged in the past or thinking about doing either one (since the same information can be found through searching for the topic or keyword).

Yahoo's work involving podcasts is simply following within Apple's efforts and more people will be exposed to the existence of podcasts as a result.  The same podcasts that are most popular via Apple iTune's directory appear to be topping the list of podcasts on Yahoo but only for the short-term it appears.  This difference appears to be in the way that people have already subscribed to an existing podcast.

As more people start subscribing to podcasts, there is going to be a need for some type of Nielsen-reporting company to certify the number of actual subscribers and their frequency of listening especially if the podcast involves any type of paid-advertising.  Podcasters in many cases will want the ability to state that they have the most active subscribers as well.

Since a lot of the existing podcasts have been subscribed to in mutually exclusively ways and unless there is a company aggregating the subscriber numbers, the podcasts being listed as the most popular only means that users of that particular website have been subscribing to the podcast and have made it most popular as a result.

I just realized that this need for subscriber data raises the value of a company such as Feedburner since they already know how many subscribers each blog or podcast will have if their tools are used.  Podcasts subscribed through Apple's iTunes are only known to Apple and the podcasters who have configured their podcast to work via iTunes currently.

Such news events from Yahoo signal the growing importance of an individual in producing multimedia for worldwide consumption.  It is already easy to see how video will be incorporated more and the potential 500 channels of television previously talked about will be even larger.  The key to success is to go deeper into the endeavor's past, present, and future and more intimately than others since no single channel or podcast or video blog will have a monopoly as in previous years.

I just hope to be a part of the process in some way and grow both as an individual and with my company.  Therefore, I tip my hat off to Yahoo on both fronts for making the future potential easier to reach.

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