This little purple piece of crap is the screenshot heard around the world.
You know, doing work with Archive Team, you can sometimes (well, often) feel you’re doing amazing work. We got a nice run against Geocities, got a lot of attention with things, spread the word a bit… you know, heroes and all that. Raise a glass for fallen websites, pride ourselves. We’ve actually saved other stuff besides Geocities, but it’s not the kind of things that get much attention and frankly, some aren’t unique at all – many other people saved various .7z files or collections announced, we just all coordinated to spread the word among our members about grabbing it. So humility is the watchword, as well as quiet dedication to backing up what we can.
With the dropping of this screenshot, however, came a hundred calls for us to “do something” or to simply let us know, knowing we would “do something”.
If you haven’t seen the screenshot before, it was snagged off an internal status meeting amid a multi-hundred-layoff at Yahoo! and leaked to the world, and it revealed the “sunset” of a multitude of services, the “merge” of others, and “make feature” of some other ones. Obviously “sunset” got the most attention, because that’s the kind of mealy-mouthed language one would expect out of assholes. It’s the same thinking that took “mass firings” to “downsizing” and then made it “rightsizing” because they thought “downsizing” was too negative. Those sort of assholes. The kind that run Yahoo!, in other words.
Before I go further, let me just say to anyone from Yahoo! all prepared to show up in my comment sections or somewhere else defending Yahoo!: Fuck off. If you are seriously working at Yahoo! and seriously think things are going great, and seriously think the criticisms I’ve had for them all this time are in some way not valid, then go back to your cubicle and your office wherever it is and play a few more rounds of solitaire while the cubicle walls are hoisted away, because you are on the goddamned Titanic and waiting for the third iceberg before declaring there’s trouble.
Paul Graham punched the buh-jeezuz out of Yahoo! quite nicely earlier this year, where the punches count: from the inside. I can’t beat that. What I can do is frame the current situation as to how other people reacted to Archive Team when this screenshot got out. Which was people were “sunsetting” in their pants in great numbers.
A lot of people expected us to go DING DING DING and swarm over Yahoo! like locusts. We don’t do that – we have been doing all sorts of work backing up various things, sharing stories and ideas, and when we could, improving the website. We have no insider ability with companies like this, and we’re definitely not in any shape to foist anything onto a company when they announce they’re killing all their crap to shave a few pennies off the bottom line. So while we’ve geared up a few projects, we don’t exactly blow out press releases upon the shocking news that a company that kills its websites is killing its websites.
Let’s take Delicious. When Delicious showed up on the Sunset Skillet, a lot of people justifiably freaked out. Delicious is a bookmarking site, but also a wonderful interconnected network of slight commentary (not forums, just commentary) and tags, one of the sites that really “got” tags as a secondary layer of informational pointers for URLs. It’s a good thing. It works well, it does what it’s supposed to, and it’s very efficient to pull data off and put it on. Now, granted, the exporting is access-restricted, but for most people that’s very good and it certainly falls under the Archive Team craziness of “Where Is Your Export”. So, there was a pretty solid little website there – right about access to data, easy, and efficient. Of course it must be killed.
Yahoo! actually went on the offensive and claimed they weren’t going to kill Delicious but sell it, which makes me laugh, because no such thing could be true – the most glaring reason being that Yahoo’s authentication system infests every one of their properties, and a lot of people on Delicious are using Yahoo IDs. Another is that Yahoo are incompetent assholes. Back in January of 2009, Archive Team announced that Yahoo! was not to be trusted. Someone from Yahoo! showed up and said we were wrong. I’m having this image he was fired, as was the entire staff of Delicious. Tell me how you intend to transition a site when you fire everyone first. You don’t. A place buying it would be buying the name and maybe the right to use the software. Maybe. Who would want that?
Anyway, since the thing was announced, I got contacted by a half-dozen discrete entities all intending to pull out as much of Delicious as possible. Some are going their own way, some are interested in working within the Archive Team. Everyone agrees that sitting around hoping Delicious gets sold somewhere isn’t the way to go. So the extracting has begun.
For my own part, I have, as of this writing, pulled out 900,000 usernames out of Delicious. You know… because I could. I’ve been passing them to the other teams. They’re having a wonderful time.
I’m sure there’ll be stories aplenty for the other Yahoo! properties with extractable content. Maybe I’ll post some thoughts about it, if it warrants it. Archive Team is doing a lot of good stuff, quietly, a lot of it with no intervention from me personally at all. When things are ready, I’m sure they’ll be made available. It is, after all, what we do.
But let’s keep two things in mind.
I am, frankly, a mixture of disappointed and sad that after Yahoo! shut down Geocities, Briefcase, Content Match, Mash, RSS Advertising, Yahoo! Live, Yahoo! 360, Yahoo! Pets, Yahoo Publisher, Yahoo! Podcasts, Yahoo! Music Store, Yahoo Photos, Yahoo! Design, Yahoo Auctions, Farechase, Yahoo Kickstart, MyWeb, WebJay, Yahoo! Directory France, Yahoo! Directory Spain, Yahoo! Directory Germany, Yahoo! Directory Italy, the enterprise business division, Inktomi, SpotM, Maven Networks, Direct Media Exchange, The All Seeing Eye, Yahoo! Tech, Paid Inclusion, Brickhouse, PayDirect, SearchMonkey, and Yahoo! Go!… there are still people out there going “Well, Yahoo certainly will never shut down Flickr, because _______________” where ______ is the sound of donkeys.
What, because they take your money? Because they’re so big? Because so many people use it and like it? Because it works well? Because it would make Yahoo! look bad? Go ahead, give me some more reasons. Flickr allows you great ability to export all your data. Get used to using it regularly.
Second, Yahoo! is shutting down Yahoo! Video next year. March 2011. March 15, 2011, to be exact. They will delete all user-generated content on that day.
Yahoo! Video was the second-most used video hosting site behind YouTube. Number 2! And all of it, all video, is going to be deleted. Thousands and thousands of videos, many of which are likely hosted nowhere else, completely gone. This is awful. I am almost positive it’ll be beyond the abilities of Archive Team to get even a tiny fraction of all that video. And why are they doing this? Some idiot middle manager’s ideas to cut costs, I’m sure – some “refocusing” of priorities or whatnot, is sitting stuck in the gullet of this decision, never to make any sense.
All I can say, looking back, is that when history takes a look at the lives of Jerry Yang and David Filo, this is what it will probably say:
Two graduate students, intrigued by a growing wealth of material on the Internet, built a huge fucking lobster trap, absorbed as much of human history and creativity as they could, and destroyed all of it.
Great work, guys.
Categorised as: computer history
Comments are disabled on this post