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The Yahoo Mail Fiasco: Yet Another Example of Silicon Valley's Endless Commitment to "Fiddling", not "Innovating"

Turned on the Internet this morning and it seems there was a firestorm of criticism being leveled at Yahoo.com for their changes to their long time Yahoo Mail service. Reading the coverage, it sounds pretty bad for those who relied on this service.

I haven't used Yahoo mail much in years (although in the late 90s/early 2000s I relied on a primitive but reliable version of the service when I traveled).

After reading some of the specifics, I have to say I'm not really that surprised. Yahoo is under a lot of pressure to reinvent it self, and fast and start making something called "money" to justify all those salaries that ride the Yahoo Bus** south every day.

Unfortunately, they seem to have chosen the route that is common for companies, big and small in this so called "tech"*** sector - pay lots of people to endlessly fiddle around with a product, changing details big and small, and often, to seem like they are doing something, when they're really not.

It would be unfair, however, to simply play the "let's beat on poor dying Yahoo" game. Take a look at the Pain in the Ass known as ios7. Apple too, chose to add lots of gadgety bullshit we didn't need (really, did I need my home screen to look like it's in "3D") and added an endless array of setting, pretty pictures and such. They also took a lot of the ease of use that was the hallmark of previous iOS's (iOSes?).

It doesn't really hit you until you use someone's phone using iOS6 and you realize Apple in the post-Jobs era that this, like other products from the tech*** world was a classic example of fiddling by committee, not creating any true innovation. One can only wonder if Mr. Jobs would have really approved.

Oh, but we could go on. Facebook? HA! They took "fiddling" to a whole new level - how many times have they made revisions based on all sorts of BS. Remember when the directive was a vague notion to "be more like Twitter!" a few years ago? No? Well then how about the endless ticky tacky settings regarding "privacy" users have faced since the beginning?

Don't get me wrong - not all companies do this and there are many mobile applications, online services and so on that actually do something useful and do continue to improve such products. Square comes to mind for its usefulness for independent merchants and those splitting the check at the restaurant, for example.

That said, it would be nice if we perhaps saw some of the Really Big Companies with Lots of Salaries tone down the fiddling, and get back to work making their products more useful.

For now, I'll continue to use only the ones that work (free or not) and avoid the fiddlers.

**Same goes for everyone on one of those GoogleYahooFacebookBauer bus things.

***This is really for another entire post, but I think we have to stop describing the majority of these companies that call themselves "tech" as such, and instead call them for what they are - advertising companies.

The "products" are not really the services they purport to provide (Google Mail, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, etc) - that's a secondary use. What they are really selling are their users who will look at said ads and supposedly click on them or whatever to buy something later on.

There's no shame in that at all - I used to work for a company that bought online ads all the time and there's many options for advertisers out there that didn't exist 10 years ago. However, let's not suggest these "tech" companies are on a par with those companies that built the US space program, create new medicines that cure disease, or build the many, many weapons that Americans like and seem to need.

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