I’m pleased to report I’m now working at Yahoo! Music in Santa Monica, doing AJAX and Flash programming, among other things. After admiring the numerous improvements at Yahoo over the past couple of years (and even cowriting a book about one of their smarter acquisitions), it is great to be actually contributing to a company that truly desires to make the Internet experience a better (and more social) activity.
“So why not that other company?” you may ask. The answer is related to my own personal convictions about what truly drives the web, and it ain’t silicon. I’ve held these convictions for a while now.
Back when I was working on the Palace avatar chat system in the mid-90’s, we put in a set of tables for playing chess. I scripted the chess sets so that players got pieces they could move around, but I did not script an actual chess engine (even though I was working on chess engines as a hobby at the time). Why is this? Was it because I didn’t have enough time? That was true enough, but no, I actually felt that a chess engine was inappropriate for that social space. A chess set does not require a chess engine to play chess. It requires two (count ’em) two people. These people can play chess, or they can use the table to play some other game of their own devising — they can move the pieces around to make silly shapes, or make towers that fall over. The rules of chess legality that are built into chess engines would deny these kinds of creative and social activities, and turn each chess table into a boring solitaire game.
Yes, the engine that ultimately drives the Internet is people and Yahoo! gets this at a fundamentally deep level. Observing Yahoo! from afar – who they’ve been hiring, what they’ve been acquiring, I’ve seen this. Now I can observe it from within, and more importantly, participate!