In what many will see as the company's belated reaction to Facebook-envy (having missed out on the chance to buy the social networking site), Yahoo has launched "Mash", which is described as "a new approach to online profiles".
TechCrunch got to try out the site -- which is currently an invite-only Beta -- and noted a number of similarities to Facebook: a clean simple layout, and a feature called Pulse, which works similar to Facebook’s news mini feed. "The Pulse page shows updates from your friends that are basically Twitter-like messages reporting all of your friends’ activity on Mash."
"Mash" also has a number of modules that can be drag 'n' dropped onto your profile, which currently include Flickr RSS, Ego Boost, Common Friends, MyMoshLog2, Blog Module (RSS 2.0), Asteroids, Astrology, PimpMyPet, Hover, Kaleidescope, Guestbook, and My Stuff. While many of these tie into the company's other Internet properties, Yahoo plans to open up the "Mash" platform to third party developers -- Facebook-style.
However, where "Mash" gets a little more interesting is the way it allows and encourages your "friends" to edit and contribute to your own profile. Hence the word "Mash", as others can help you mashup various web content onto your page.
From the official Yahoo Mash blog:
- You can make starter profiles for your friends. Think: “first round’s on me.”
- You can leave your profile open to contributions by trusted friends.
- You can customize your — or your friend’s — profile with modules from a growing gallery of apps.
The "first round's on me" feature is not only fun but is also a very clever viral marketing strategy. If a friend of mine has gone to the trouble to put in place the foundations of my own profile on "Mash", I'm going to feel compelled to check it out, and probably change it more to my tastes.
Allowing "trusted" friends to continue to make changes is also an interesting concept, and while I'm not entirely sure why you'd want to do this, it could be a way of getting more tech-savvy users to help customize and manage a friends' profile.
The third feature, where friends can add and customize the modules used on your profile, could be a lot of fun, and provides a real element of surprise when revisiting your own profile: What interesting mashups have my friends created for me?
Of course, "Mash" has also put in place privacy controls to enable users to feel comfortable with the degree to which other can mess with their profile.