Weekly Recap and All the Rest

(Or, What I’ve Been Up To Lately at Yahoo!)

Yahoo!This week was as much about what I got to write as it was about why I didn’t get (around) to write. And the funny thing is, it’s a good thing. I’ll explain.

But first, let’s recap this week’s posts. I started by talking about OAuth, where we are as a community, where we are going, and gave some ideas on how people can keep the effort moving forward. I continued with a brief discussion on using content negotiation for discovery, and concluded with the first post in a series about the new landscape of discovery: the XRD protocol stack.

Back to why I didn’t get to write more…

My work at Yahoo! is getting really interesting. Not that it wasn’t before, but over the past few months I have changed my focus and role. When I joined Yahoo! a little less than a year ago, my title was ‘Open Standards Evangelist’, focusing on open communities such as OAuth and OpenID, getting more people from Yahoo! involved and active. I later adjusted it to ‘Open Web Evangelist’ as my focus shifted from promoting specific open specifications to changing the way the entire company approaches open specifications. I spent a lot of time working on creating and promoting it through the ideas of the Open Web Foundation.

But as the company became more aware and involved in open communities, a pretty amazing transformation in just one year, my attention shifted to looking at the bigger picture of how Yahoo! is managing its interoperability with the world. This goes beyond stuff like OAuth. Interoperability in general, is accomplished via 4 main tool:

  1. Standards
  2. Open Community Specifications
  3. Multi-party Agreements
  4. Proprietary Protocols

Each one of these is a valid tool for accomplishing interoperability between Yahoo! and the rest of the world. But knowing when to apply each, how to choose and influence efforts, and managing the significant costs involved, is something the organization as a whole did not need to deal with up until very recently. This transformation of Yahoo! we keep talking about is happening everywhere, not just in how our front page is designed, or the APIs we offer.

What this means is that I am spending more time talking to people internally. We have great people like Allen Tom to carry the torch of OpenID and OAuth (which was my initial focus). Allen doesn’t need my help in getting real traction. If fact, he and the entire Membership team have been doing amazing work opening the company well before I even joined. What I’m trying to do now, is work internally to make it easier for our engineers to participate.

I want people like Allen to focus on what matters, and not about licensing agreements, membership fees, bylaws, and internal politics. When you work for a large public company, this stuff matters and highly regulated, but it shouldn’t distract engineers from building great products.

That’s the direction my new job is taking. I’m still working to define my role (we are not big on titles at Yahoo!), but for now (at least according to my business card) I am ‘Director of Standards Development’. And by standards, I include 1-3 of the above.

This coming week I will do my best to post an overview of the new XRD schema, as well as a post about LRDD (pronounced ‘lard’) and /host-meta. And Monday is the deadline for submitting IETF draft updates, so I am hoping to make it and push out the big rewrite of the OAuth Core 1.0 spec. Cool stuff is coming!