Yahoo has axed its Picks blog, which has highlighted a notable new site webevery day for the past 12 years. In an age of 24-hour blogs, a one-link-a-day site was antiquated. And Picks, at 12, was a Methuselah of the Web. But we owe so much to the long-neglected site that it deserves a better obituary than the one Yahoo afforded it.
Blogging, at its roots, is a simple act: Choosing a link and describing it as briefly as possible. Long before we had things called blogs, sites like Netscape's What's New, Cool Site of the Day, and Yahoo Picks performed this service. These proto-blogs inspired Suck.com, the daily fountainhead of Web snark, whose tone then informed many early blogs. We owe the Web's relentless spirit of neophilia to pioneers like Yahoo Picks.
Yahoo can hardly be blamed for killing Picks; Yahoo's Web directory, the engine of Yahoo's early success, has long run out of steam. Yahoo doesn't want to send users elsewhere; it wants to lure them into portals like My Yahoo and Yahoo Finance, and keep them as long as it can. No surprise that Yahoo is struggling with that strategy: If walled gardens are faring poorly, how much worse will the unwalled ones do?
The closure of Picks is an acknowledgement that the Yahoo of today is not the Yahoo of 12 years ago. It would be less sad to lose such a defining property if we had any idea what Yahoo stood for now.