Taming the Web

Taming the Web – Industry Trend or Event

Todd W. Carter

In print, we rely on journalists to deliver the news we want while filtering out useless chatter. While the core process hasn’t exactly changed, the Internet has caused a flood of primary and secondary information–on competitors, markets, business analyses–that’s too useful and easily accessible to ignore. But short of hiring an assistant to wade through it all, what’s a quick way to mine only what you need?

Some Web start-ups think they have the answer. These sites fall roughly into two camps, but both let you gather, store, organize, and view Web content the way you want, rather than the way Yahoo, CNN.com, or other providers prefer.

Such services–dubbed personal portals or personalization services –“tame the Internet” explains Philip Mendoza, an analyst with International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass. Sites in the first subgroup help you, in Mendoza’s words, “capture your Internet experience” by storing files, news clippings, photos, and other information on an online server.

Unlike online storage services like X:drive (xdrive.com) or Driveway (www.driveway.com which serve as virtual hard disks for traditional files and documents, a service such as i-drive.com lets you clip Web pages and information snippets like travel reservations and e-commerce shopping receipts as you browse, storing them on a personal page. Plans to add intelligence to the service mean that i-drive.com will soon be able to suggest relevant news stories or music based on the newspaper article you clipped or the graphic you saved to the site.

But Ron Jones, an analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Group, is skeptical: “I look at the revenue side–can these services survive?” Jones urges home workers to approach with caution, warning that relying on any single service to store important data could prove dangerous if its backers go belly-up.

The other personal portal camp uses a variant on “push” or custom delivery technology. At least three services–OnePage (onepage.com), Octopus.com, and Clickmarks (clickmarks.com)–let you cherry-pick a variety of content (industry news, stock quotes, even e-mail) and stream it into a single Web page, saving you the trouble of grazing multiple sites.

“We help you make sense of the Internet and pick up what’s relevant,” says Rizwan Tufail, Clickmarks cofounder and vice president of marketing. According to Tufail, Clickmarks automatically logs you in to view password-protected content, and lets you view personal content on cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs).

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