Talking to a brick wall...

Rants & Raves

Rants & Raves

Finding the Web

The Future of the Web

About this time, we start to see something called a 'portal' appear. This is a place where you get news, calendars, weather, and various information, all combined into one page. The idea was that, rather than you running around the web, trying to find the information you wanted, a company would do the running around for you and gather it all on one site.
    Netscape, I think, was the first big name to try to do this. NetCaster was their idea of how to do this… but, for various reasons, it never really took off. At about that time, many search engines (but not, thankfully, AltaVista), started to become portals too. And, of course, some entirely new sites cropped up.

Anyway, these portals started to have a profound effect on what the web really was at the time…. Before, most people had some home page or core of home pages that they began browsing from, which they would follow links from and eventually find new pages to bookmark and then start browsing from. That, at least, is what I did, and I am fairly sure I was not alone. One beautiful remnant of that era is the option, still around in Netscape at least, is to have the browser start up with the last page visited, rather than some home page or a blank page.
    With a portal, though, someone is expected to use that page to start with EVERY time they start their browser. And if the same page, with pretty general links, is going to be your start page each time, just link-browsing isn't going to get you anywhere too interesting.

At this point, I'd say, the point when portals replaced home pages as most people's starting points, the search engine became much more important (and links, by contrast, less). People would, rather than just browsing, (thought it still happens,) think of something they wanted to look for, and then look for it.
    With me, this happened so much that I even forgot about link-browsing and the very concept of links creating the web was in at least some sense lost on my mind. The fact that my web page has links at all is only a matter of tradition… you don't know how many times I had, before recently at least, been tempted to just abolish them.
    As this works practice and mindset became more and more common, I'd say that the web became not so much a web as a vast, highly searchable archive… maybe some great, worldwide library or collection. So changes the nature of the web. >>

  1. Brave New Web
  2. The World at your fingertips
  3. Through the eye of a needle
  4. New ways to search
  5. Just a Community

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