Evolution of the Portal

Issac Asimov said

"The only constant is change."
This truism is so relevant to how we use the Internet.

My first interactions with the net was via my first ISP, CompuServe (CIS). They had a closed network of forums covering all manner of subjects. It was like a well resourced, user friendly bulletin board.

Then Netscape came along with their browser for the newest part of the net, the World Wide Web. Being limited to a small subset of the internet from CIS, regardless of the quality, then seemed to be very restrictive. I wanted to find out what individuals were doing with/on the net, not just a corporate view from my ISP. CIS was soon left behind.

With the rapid growth of the WWW, finding what you wanted now required a search engine or a well constructed web directory. Yahoo! became my index of choice. I remember the thrill of getting my site listed on Yahoo!. To me their site became the benchmark of how an internet "portal" should look and feel. When it came to finding things not in Yahoo!'s index I used AltaVista as my main search engine.

My next switch in habits, in how I interacted with the net, came along in the shape of Google with a powerful algorithm which measured the links between pages to gauge the relevancy of any particular website. I quickly dropped AltaVista as my go-to site. Google gradually built upon their dominance in search. I now use their free services for desktop search, email, mailing lists, calendaring, maps, note taking, bookmarks, on-line documents, keeping upto date with feeds and this blog.

Now there is talk of a new shift in the evolution.

This recent article The New Portals: It’s the Bread, Not the Peanut Butter talks about how the new Facebook platform is going to use the leverage of the social network to serve information to users that are relevant based not on a search term, but on the people you are friends with. This change is at a very early stage, but I feel this will be a powerful shift in the way I will interact with the net.

Question: What will be the next phase?