Sunday, February 10, 2008
Yahoo And Its Discontents
I use Yahoo as my internet "portal." I think I do this only because I've always done it. I remember when "the internet" was, like, just text and I wasn't clear on what was there. This is maybe 1993. I asked a forward-looking friend, What can you see and do on the internet? And he said, start at yahoo and they have some stuff.
I remember I did, and it wasn't very interesting. You could click on "arts and humanities" and that would take you to some databases. Library of Congress, anyone? I remember it was supposed to be some kind of famous and hilarous thing that the kids at MIT had connected a sensor to the soda machine in their building so they could monitor whether there was soda without having to go downstairs, and since it was "on the internet" anyone could monitor it, anywhere. Wow, some kind of excitement!
Somhow I've stuck with Yahoo all these years. About two years ago they changed their format to having that featured story in the middle of the page, and I actually wrote them an email to say 1) the featured story is almost always moronic and 2) the other news links are getting dumber too. Please go back to your previous format. Of course they didn't. Whatever.
I don't really care now or notice much what I'm looking at on the Yahoo page, except for one thing: the format of the feature story these days drives me crazy. There's something about it that it always reads like a parody of what it is. Here's the one that's up there now:
Life beyond Earth?
Find out how scientists are planning to colonize Mars and the moon.
-- Not science fiction anymore
-- Are we alone in the universe?
-- Find astronaut ice cream online
Could this be any dumber?
The headlines are always constructed as teasers: Forbes announces top five livable communities. What are they? Weather plays a role. Check real estate listings. Often even if you do get interested and click, you find some stupid yahoo content, or a video you're not going to watch. Who thinks this is a good idea?
I can't wait for some really big news to come along.
Aliens land in major American City.
Are they in your neighborhood?
-- How carbon-based life forms work
-- Will the economy be affected?
-- Find E. T. costumes online
I've tried to switch to an actual news-oriented homepage, but I missed the particular mix of ads and crap and so on. So I guess it's not that I'm against dumb, so much, I just want it to be the right kind of dumb. Can't I have my Britney headlines next to some car ads next to some actual news? Is that too much to ask?