Breads "R" Us
By user12617983 on Jun 06, 2007
David suggests that portals evolved from a web directory (Yahoo) to search
(Google) and have now morphed into a mechanism to share information
(Facebook, MySpace). According to him, portals of tomorrow will
provide a 'social graph' - a network of relationships that will push
information to you. So it's no longer the portal administrator or
content editors who will decide what you see on your portal. Heck, it's
not even you who'll decide what you see on your portal; it'll be your
social graph! (Of course, you'll still have control over whom you want
to hear from.)
The important point David makes here is that aggregation is no longer the only core function of a portal. The new portals are all about sharing. It's about using your social graph to learn and to share more efficiently. David emphasizes that the social graph will not replace search, but augment it with new capabilities. So he warns us to not look at sharing as the peanut butter, but look at it as the bread itself. In other words, the social graph shouldn't be considered as just another feature, but as a core function of the portal itself.
We, in the Sun Portal Server team, could not agree more with David. And to prove it we've been working over the past two years on making our portal completely "share"-ready. The Sun Portal Server 7.x has community features baked right into the bread (see this demo) so that you don't have to worry about finding ways to make your users talk to each other. It allows users to create Wiki-based communities that can be used by community members to share information. Access to these communities can be open or restricted. The communities can host portlets that will allow users to share documents or discuss on topics using a forum.
However the sharing features that we focussed on thus far were mostly from enterprise users' point of view. I believe enterprise portals should look for inspiration even outside the enterprise landscape. There are number of features that are implemented by the current crop of web 2.0 websites that'll be very useful inside an enterprise. For example, the social news ranking feature implemented by Digg can be used by enterprises to foster bottom-up innovation. The portal will be then transformed into an idea marketplace where feedback for new ideas can be sought from a large community instead of a handful of people. Similarly tagging and social bookmarking can further improve the social graph of an enterprise.
The ideas are out there, and with OpenPortal there is a robust open source portal platform out there as well. Now all we need to do is to go convert these ideas into code. Wanna sign up?