Blog Posts by Havi Hoffman

  • Zero History: a William Gibson weekend

    On Friday evening I listened to writer William Gibson (@greatdismal) read the opening chapter of his new book, Zero History. Kepler's Bookstore in Menlo Park was packed for the reading. Gibson invented the word "cyberspace" in 1984 in his epic first novel, Neuromancer, and inspired the genre known as cyberpunk. He's also alleged to be responsible for one of nearly everyone's favorite quotes, "the future is already here- it's just not evenly distributed."

    When asked why he'd shifted his focus from writing about a dystopian future to writing about the present and recent past, Gibson described his work as a "toolkit to interrogate a constantly changing present." He described Twitter as the greatest aggregator of novelty ever invented. Gibson characters move through a cosmopolitan landscape where the future arrives early and travels in style. They carry iPhones and MacBooks, they lock tweets to communicate in private, examine history via YouTube, do pricing research on eBay; they've come

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  • The SXSW Panel Picker: Vote for Us

    South By Southwest 2011 is still more than six months away, but voting on the PanelPicker ends this Friday, August 27, at 11:59 CDT. SXSW is a community-driven event, which means the community gets a say in picking the content of next year's Interactive (March 11-15), Music (March 16-20), and Film (March 11-19) panel sessions. All you have to do is register to set up an account. You don't even need a ticket.

    According to the chart on their website, votes from the community count for 30% of SXSW's programming decisions; staff opinion counts for 30% too; and input from the advisory board accounts for the remaining 40%. There's also an interesting "trending ideas" feature that shows what's hot in PanelPicker over the last 24 hours. I would love to learn more about how all this really works, but it's interesting even without the secret sauce--and a great tactic for drawing attention.

    SXSW takes place in Austin, the geek heart of Texas, and the Interactive portion is a spring gathering of

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  • PayPal Developer Challenge: Dates to remember

    PayPal recently announced its X Developer Challenge. The contest features a Grand Prize of $100,000 for the most innovative new app built using the PayPal X platform. The top entries will be selected by PayPal and its developers invited to exhibit their applications at the PayPal X Innovate 2010 Conference, October 26-27, in San Francisco.

    Challenge logoYahoo! Developer Network is one of several X Award sponsors. We're offering a prize of $10,000 for the best integration of PayPal APIs with Yahoo! technologies, and we'd love for you to participate.

    If you register your application idea on the PayPal X website by August 4, 2010, you'll also be eligible for a chance to win one of 10 iPads. This contest in not limited to U.S. entrants but it is governed by California and U.S. law. (Yahoo! employees and their immediate families are not eligible. Read the official rules for all the details.)

    So what should you build? Think about apps that use PayPal's payment APIs in new and innovative ways. Wow us with

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  • Heard at the Hadoop Summit: Quotes and Sound Bites

    A week's gone by since the third annual and biggest ever Hadoop Summit, but the interest and momentum continue unabated. Yahoo!'s communications team spoke to presenters and thought leaders from some participating companies about how they are using Hadoop. Here's a sampling of what we heard and some video conversations we captured:


    “Facebook uses Hadoop and Hive extensively to process large data sets. This infrastructure is used for a variety of different jobs - including adhoc analysis, reporting, index generation and many others. We have one of the largest clusters with a total storage disk capacity of more than 20PB and with more than 23000 cores. We also use Hadoop and Scribe for log collection, bringing in more than 50TB of raw data per day. Hadoop has helped us scale with these tremendous data volumes.” - Ashish Thusoo, Engineering Manager at Facebook.


    "Hadoop is a key ingredient in allowing LinkedIn to build many of our most computationally difficult features,

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  • Social 2.2 Release Notes

    During the early weeks of June, the Social Platforms team successfully launched Social 2.2, which included the coordinated release of software updates to 9 different social platforms (including Social Directory, Address Book, Updates, and YQL) and the cross-company release of social features in over 12 properties in many international markets. It was a challenging week with many moving parts. A big thank you to all the teams involved in these complex and interdependent pushes. Many aspects of these releases don't touch external developers directly, but give a glimpse of the scale and significance of the technology and its architecture.

    I want to articulate how this release ties into Yahoo!'s overarching social strategy and how it helps achieve our broader objectives. It’s key to keep an eye on bigger picture. (keep checking the TVs on E2 in Sunnyvale to see our daily progress):

    Internally, we've established three social objectives:

    • To aggregate social activity from across the Web into
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  • Announcing Yahoo!’s X Award for the PayPal X Developer Challenge 2010

    This past November, at Innovate 09, PayPal launched the PayPal X Developer Network, with a slew of APIs that take online payments technology to a global base of merchants, developers, entrepreneurs, and innovators. They also launched the PayPal X Developer Challenge. (The winning apps were later showcased at the spring Demo conference). YOS product and UED leader, Micah Laaker, one of over 1500 attendees at last year's inaugural event, wrote enthusiastically about his experience at Innovate.

    Today PayPal announced their 2010 PayPal Developer Challenge. This year's challenge is bigger and better--and includes a $10,000 X Award provided by Yahoo! for the most useful and inventive integration of PayPal APIs with Yahoo!'s platform technologies.

    Developer registration is now open. You'll need to log in to PayPal to get all the details. Register by August 4 and you have a shot at one of 10 iPads being given away. The top entries selected will be invited to exhibit their applications at the

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  • Fractious Friday: IO ignites the Web geek landscape

    Logo-ignite.pngMost of the time, geologic change unfolds too slowly for us humans to perceive. Changes in the built landscape tend to be cyclic, and easier to notice. Expansion/contraction, verticality/sprawl. The pace of change in the urban environment has quickened dramatically in modern times. Travelers describe the changing skylines of fast-growing cities, which can be entirely transformed over the course of months. Leave for half a year and you may not recognize the neighborhood you come home to. But it seems to me the Internet landscape and the marketplace of digital technologies change most quickly of all. I stopped in at Google IO in San Francisco last week, and that was what impressed me most.

    If you follow the industry pundits and prognosticators, from Arrington and O'Reilly to Dixon and Wilson, this won't be news to you. Google and Apple aren't friends anymore. Sun is gone. Adobe is licking its wounds.

    In this climate of shifting allegiances and alignments, debates on curation vs control,

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  • Fractious Friday: The Winding Road to Open

    The road to the Internet OS took some interesting twists and turns this week, especially noticeable if you followed the ripples of comment, opinion, and insight that streamed from the internets in response to the stone that Steve Jobs cast at Adobe via his Thoughts on Flash blogpost.

    Many, many people stopped what they were doing to read it. The post pulled no punches in denouncing Flash as inadequate for Apple's "most advanced and innovative platform," designed to "create the best apps the world has ever seen." Then the rebroadcasting began.

    Over on Techcrunch, MG Siegler riffed on Marshall Kirkpatrick's new genre of twitter->blog journalism -- the act of sifting and curating tweets to build narrative. Read Write Web's Kirkpatrick used a collection of tweets on April as a way to comment and reflect on HP's acquisition of Palm and Palm's WebOS, in an April 28 post titled The Smartest Tweets about HP/Palm. My favorite came from a PR pro, "HP Buys Palm for $1.2 Billion, Spurring

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  • Hadoop Studio: A London Hack Day Overnight Sensation Finds Funding

    We first saw Hadoop Studio not quite a full year ago. It was a sunny May Sunday in London, and Shevek had been up all night, working with NetBeans and Java on the very first version of Hadoop Studio, "a desktop IDE tool for graphically prototyping Hadoop jobs and deploying, monitoring, and debugging them." Me and my colleagues had never seen anyone demo a "Hadoop hack" before. And we'd been to quite a few hack days.


    About a month later, in June 2009, at last year's Hadoop Summit, I met Martin Hall, Karmasphere’s chief executive and co-founder, and we chatted about the need and potential for a tool like theirs. By then, Shevek had registered In the autumn, I heard that Hadoop Studio was presented at Hadoop World in NYC, and read about Shevek's presentation of Hadoop Studio at a local Hadoop User Group (HUG), hosted here at Yahoo!.

    So, I was pretty excited a week ago to see a post about Karmasphere and Hadoop in the Wall Street Journal Digits blog. Karmasphere just

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  • At Where 2.0: the GeoPlanet concordance beta

    Today I'm at O'Reilly's 6th Where 2.0 conference (my 4th), representing Yahoo! Developer Network along with colleagues from the Yahoo! Geo Technologies team, Yahoo! Local, and Upcoming. There are over 900 attendees here at the San Jose Marriott, riding a towering wave of interest in location awareness. If the crowd is any indication, the geoverse seems to be headed for an endless summer of epic proportions.

    I'm listening to the well-caffeinated, and truly checked-in Yahoo Geo Technologies Engineering Director Gary Gale speak to a packed room about ubiquity, new frontiers, hyperlocal nirvana, and other concepts essential to understanding the exploding world of whereness.

    Gary presents his theory of stuff as it related to geo-aware location-based services. To develop an effective and compelling web-based or device-driven location-based application you need: stuff + secret sauce + people.

    He goes on to announce the beta concordance enhancements to GeoPlanet, Yahoo! Geo's resource for

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