11 January 2010

Yahoo studies social science

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Social science at Yahoo
Yahoo Labs is beefing up its ranks of social scientists, adding highly credentialed cognitive psychologists, economists and ethnographers from top universities around the world, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“In the last year, Yahoo Labs has bolstered its ranks of social scientists, adding highly credentialed cognitive psychologists, economists and ethnographers from top universities around the world. At approximately 25 people, it’s still the smallest group within the research division, but one of the fastest growing.

The recruitment effort reflects a growing realization at Yahoo, the second most popular U.S. online site and search engine, that computer science alone can’t answer all the questions of the modern Web business. As the novelty of the Internet gives way, Yahoo and other 21st century media businesses are discovering they must understand what motivates humans to click and stick on certain features, ads and applications – and dismiss others out of hand.”

Interestingly, the core value of Yahoo is shifting to the user experience:

“The most prominent example is the company’s search engine. It was originally Yahoo’s raison d’etre, but the company is now in the process of replacing its core search technology with Microsoft Corp.’s Bing tool. As part of the deal, it is moving about 400 search engineers over to the Redmond, Wash., software company.

Yahoo has emphasized it is now competing in search through the front-end user experience, positioning results based on what people are most commonly seeking.”

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