Are portals really back?

Jun 26, 2006 at 2:26 PM
The latest "buzz" in internet search engine news is that "portals are back". People are saying things like "Not since the end of the dot com boom" and "Google is even jumping on board."

There is no new interest in portals from a user perspective though.

SO why is this happening? What is all the "portal" buzz about?

Two things. Feeds. Search engines want to be able to track what blogs and feeds you're actually subscribing to, so they can tell the spam from the good stuff.
In order to do that, they need to be able to see your list of feeds.

The other thing is that they want to know your browsing and buying habits, your demographic information and other goodies. The reason they want this is so they can offer you up as a piece of the pay-per-click and pay-per-view advertising pie. This pie is a multi-billion dollar pie. So our favorite search engines are dropping more and more of our implied anonymity and reach in favor of what their advertisers need - lots of data collected about the advertisement's target market - which is possible YOU. To know this, the search engine wants to know your personal buying habits, your age, gender,race, your favorite websites, what your interests are, your email history, your browser history, your medical history (that last one's probably a joke). You get it.

So they're trying to make you create a personalized or "my____" version of their search engine - which lets them know every little detail about you.

To be fair, they tried lots of other stuff first.

The tried doing this via your browser (through add-on toolbars, but that doesn't capture enough data to sate the appetite of the search engines). They tried doing it through search functions that you download onto your own machine to use locally, but that was too invasive for most people's taste.

So, "My this" and "Personalized that" came about.

All it is is another step away from caring about us, their search market, and more toward being just another advertising service. Google, MSN and Yahoo aer all racing to offer the best PPC ad service, and in order to do this, they've begun to argue over you offers the most data about the target market.

So portals are back.

Hmmmm. Interesting. Public opinion poll on whether we actually want the portals back, anyone?

I'd rather subscribe to feeds via my Feed Demon program and keep my anonymity, thank you!

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