Social science meets computer science at Yahoo!
The San Francisco Chronicle published an interesting article on Monday about how "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.
It's encouraging that Yahoo Labs is "focused now on the benefit that computer technology provides to people, as opposed to focused on what technology can invent," said Len Shustek, an angel investor and chairman of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.
For a company that provides such a mishmash of applications and features to generally low-sophistication users, aren't they arriving a bit late at this realization?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Jonathan (@first_day) is a tech-focused jack of all trades and the editor-in-chief of UX Magazine. He is also the author of Effective UI: The Art of Building Great User Experience in Software, published by O'Reilly Media. Through its partnership with UX Magazine, Jonathan is also a senior advisor to Didus, a recruiting and career development company focused on user-centered professionals. As well, Jonathan is Managing Director, Product Strategy & Design for Dapperly, a fashion-oriented software product startup, and he is the Principal of First Day, a small private equity and consulting company. From 2005 to 2009, Jonathan helped found EffectiveUI, a leading UX strategy, design, and development agency focused on web, desktop, and mobile systems.