If you’ve been reading ResearchBuzz for a long time, you’ve heard me mention Vivisimo, a company that launched a nice clustering search engine called Clusty. Clusty.com still has the Vivisimo logo on it, but yesterday evening I read a press release from PRNewswire announcing that Clusty had been acquired by something called Yippy, Inc.
The meaningful part of the press release is only about a paragraph long — seriously, the legal disclaimer is longer than that paragraph. I had no idea Clusty was even up for grabs. So naturally my first thought was, “Why?” And my second thought was “What’s a Yippy besides the other half of ” … Skippy”?
That’s Yippy. The search form not only does a Clusty search it at the moment frames a Clusty page in its search results — as far as I can tell results are not coming from Yippy.com . Yippy’s also offering more, including E-mail, 2GB storage (in the “Yippy Cloud,” which sounds like a night spot with BITCHIN’ poetry slams), what looks like a basic RSS feed reader, games, etc. And all (except the framed Clusty results) in this very blue cartoonish style as you can see in the screenshot above.
Yippy’s features (which are free, though you’ll have to register) remind me very much of a portal site — what with the e-mail and the storage and all. I would not have noticed it at all, probably, if the company had not bought Clusty. The question now of course is what happens, and does anyone want to use a portal site anymore, and can you integrate a clustering search engine into a portal site, and is Yahoo going to take offense at Yippy’s name (it shouldn’t, I see no reason to, but you never can tell.)
Yippy promises a more complete press release on Monday. I’m looking forward to it.
What is not stated here is that since Clusty sold out to Yippy for $5.5 million, the page about censorship, originally stating that censorship of any kind would not be implemented on Clusty, was changed by Yippy people to say that they will censor anything that doesn’t exalt the right-wing, and the United States, proclaimed with unabashed jingoism as “The Greatest Country on God’s Earth”. Also, despite insulting Google as being too open, their creepy new “Mission Statement” seems very much like Google’s confidence trick of greedy capitalism with the façade of cheesy, save-the-world philanthropy. Google and Yippy, two sides of the same coin, supporting the United States cult of capitalist greed, anti-communism and McCarthyist red-baiting.
Vivisimo was good.
Clusty was great.
Yippy imposes censorship, explicitly.
I believe Clusty did not collect data on the user’s search activity. Does Yippy?
“. We do collect limited non-personally identifying information that your browser makes available. This log information includes your Internet Protocol address, browser type, browser language, referral data, the date and time of your query and one or more cookies (described below) that may uniquely identify your browser. International users (defined as those outside the continental United States of America) are subject to tracking, cookies and other government required protocols as required by the appropriate US Government Agencies such as the FBI, NSA or CIA. “
To back up my claims above, here are some links (requested by Ms. Tara Calishain by e-mail) to prove my statements.
(note the parts about the “greatest nation on God’s earth” and the emphasis on US citizenship – the rules actually changed, saying that Yippy will comply with repressive governments)
…was replaced with this…
(of note is the data collection section and the creepy language, which seems similar to Google’s weird save-the-world, do-gooder mission)
…which was replaced with…
(problems are quite obvious)
If that wasn’t enough evidence for you, you should join the Yippy crowd, where ignorance is fun and perfectly acceptable.
Jonas Rand is correct – Yippie has purchased the Vivisimo clustering search engine specifically to censor web content. They make no secret of it. I’m glad to see that he and other bloggers understand the consequences for all of us if we fail to be concerned.
My personal experience with this censorship policy underscores the dangers. The following web site page:
is powered by the Vivisimo search engine. It’s an industry blogsite for professionals who are, as the website likes to call them, knowledge workers. It extolls the virtues of clustering search engines as it relates to those who make their living processing information. I tried to enter into this conversation by pointing out the problems created by companies like Yippie when they have an agenda about the information they supply, and I was denied a posting for doing so. Was my posting vulgar? Inappropriate? Off-target? Flaming? Hardly. I’ll let the bloggers of this more openly information friendly website be the judge of why such a thing would happen. My rejected blog follows. Sorry for the formal tone – it was originally written for industry wonks who often can have trouble hearing you unless you talk like them.
“Knowledge workers obviously require knowledge to be able to do their work, and that title indicates a level of trust placed in their ability to autonomously process and utilize information. Therefore, the broader their access to information, the greater the possibilities they may create for those with whom they work. Valdes-Perez’s article righty states the need for the best technology and data structuring, but we should also consider the equal importance of the quality of the information obtained.
Interestingly, Vivisimo’s algorithm that was used until recently to power the Clusty search engine now suffers at the hands of Yippie, the new owner, for this very reason. In contrast to Clusty’s policy of providing any and all information the user may request, the censorship policies described in Yippie’s mission statement permit access only to limited content, making a full array of information unavailable. For knowledge workers, this is unacceptable. Knowledge workers have already been entrusted to gather and process information, and they must be allowed to be the ultimate filters of the appropriateness of the information gathered, not Yippie. In effect, Yippie interferes with the best efforts of knowledge workers by limiting the acquisition of information before it has begun. This kind of censorship, which Yippie pursues through ownership of the technological gateway, is rather Orwellian in its implications. As information users, we all need to be more philosophically aware of the impact of our collective choices when choosing information providers. It can ultimately decrease the quality of our work if not given the proper amount of consideration it deserves.
I would recommend shopping around for a clustering browser employing Vivisimo’s algorithm that comes without the heavy-handed company censorship mission statement attached that Yippie insists on forcing upon its users. If no such alternative browser/algorithm combo exists, then doesn’t that tell us something about Yippie itself? Lack of competition is often the only way such a business model as Yippie’s can survive, and not surprisingly, this comment will be removed by Yippie from their servers and (so they hope) from competition in the marketplace of ideas if found there. That would hardly serve to advance the distribution of knowledge that should be Yippie’s justification for existing, as it would also prevent me from giving you, the knowledge worker, the opportunity to consider ALL the information you might like to have in making your own evaluation about this subject.
As is usually the case with efforts to deny users their right to choose in a free marketplace, Yippie’s control of the algorithm that powers their browser will likely be unsustainable and Vivisimo’s clustering engine will soon be free again to do the job it was originally designed to do – making the most information as easily accessible as possible. Thankfully, that’s up to users, and they tend to vote with their dollars. They’re marvelously adverse to the tactics of companies with agendas that fail to serve the public as they should.
The philosophical flaws in Yippie’s mission statement indicate that a business opportunity with a more egalitarian information structure is waiting to be born – and that’s another success in which knowledge workers will lead the way. If so, Vivisimo’s algorithm will likely be part of that continuing story.”
Thank you to researchbuzz.org for allowing this rather long-winded entry to be given it’s chance to be heard in the marketplace of ideas. Sometimes the whole story is not a short one, so I thank you for your indulgence.