The something-like-a-phenomenon app of the moment, Yo, held a hackathon today in San Francisco in an attempt to prove that there can be more to Yo than just the Yo, yo.
The app, which will send a yo to notify a subscriber when a server goes down (hence the clever name), is one of several mods that are attempting to move Yo from a messaging diversion that’s just silly to something more substantial.
Cowboy Ventures partner Noah Lichtenstein, who attended the event, posted a few of his other favorite hacks to Product Hunt including a “YOaster”, which would send a yo when bread finished toasting in a hacked toaster and Yo Radio, which bookmarks songs playing on the radio so a user can access information about the song later from a computer (I think that last one is called Shazam).
[Update: Yo Radio’s co-creator Santhosh Kumar Bala Krishnan has written to us with a few more details about his hack (which won the hackathon).
As opposed to waiting for an app like “Shazam” to listen and recognize the song that’s currently being played on the radio, when you YO to say “WHAT1015” from the YO app, “YO Radio” bookmarks the song that’s currently being played on 101.5 FM and associates it with your username. You can view the bookmarked songs and youtube links to the song from the “YO Radio” app anytime later.
We are using YO as a medium to send a notification to our app with some context (“101.5 FM” here) so that we can bookmark the song from that radio station.
So consider me standing corrected.]
Critics deride Yo as the latest evidence that technology innovation has been degraded to an inside joke for programmers and developers — who can raise real money for an app developed for nothing more than shits and giggles.
Meanwhile, Yo boosters have spent several hundred words (perhaps too many hundred words) on an ontological quest to get to the heart of Yo.
Venture investor (and husband of one of the world’s best-dressed billionaires) Marc Andreessen calls yo an example of one-bit communication — a message that only exists as itself. There is no meaning — the medium is, in fact, the message.
What’s refreshing is seeing Yo at least try to move beyond the conversation its detractors and supporters are having by promoting applications that can add additional value.
As any startup can tell you, success is never just about the app — it’s about how people ultimately use it.