MSN's UK portal has received much acclaim in a recent article in the Independent- and rightly so. It is is well designed, is very versatile and does pathbreaking stuff in its treatment of news. One of the best out there. But does it really give us/me what we are looking for? Is it so different from a thousand others that I would have it as my start page? The answer of course depends on who you are and whether it is versatility or tailor seam you are after.
Personally, with Google, Wiki, Free Dict and all the papers I need at my fingertips on the toolbar, my conclusion is bespoke. Versatility is the very nature of the internet and I find it a nuisance being automatically rerouted to a portal with bits and pieces from here and there. I don't want to be force fed anything. I want to decide for myself what to look at. If someone feel they must force me to look at something anyway, why can't they instead send me to a page or a portal catering to my needs?
So what am I looking for? I'm busy. Work long days. In my spare time I want to watch tv, movie on demand, I want exhibitions of interest to me, sales, information on gadgets, concerts, restaurants, discussions, a car show, sports - whatever. But what is on offer? I don't know and I don't want to waste time browsing the web to find out. Scanning Time Out and other available portals to map what is on that could interest me is just not possible. And they all come up with very general information anyway, with a bit of gossip and news thrown in for good measure. Consequently I miss most of the good opportunities.
I would like to see a site which compiles this sort of information for me from all available sources, offering thumbnails with links to dates, times and places for things I would be likely to do. And it would need to do this for me in the city where I live or in the one I am travelling to. So, when someone in Manchester or wherever has checked their hotmail they should be allowed to be sent to a page that tells them what they could do after work and what is coming up in two weeks and would interest them and which they would need to get tickets for now because there are only 50 left. There would still be room for some general gossip and news in a small section if the editor thinks this is a must. Or there could be the option of being sent to a tailored page instead of the general bric-a-brac page. You should be allowed to choose versatility, the news angle or the catering to your individual needs option.
Why can't I have a portal like this? Technically it should be easy, based on what people click on or from their actively setting up a profile. Why haven't the MS or the Google people (the thing in Chrome is nowhere near) come up with something like this? They are monitoring my mouseclicks anyway.