Lycos Introduces Drag-and-Drop “Web 2.0 Publishing for the Masses”

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the information in users’ profiles, friend lists, and news feeds—for example, displaying weather reports for their local areas based on the zip codes stored in their profiles.

At the moment, only about a dozen social add-ons are available for Webon pages. But with the official addition of the OpenSocial API to the Webon platform today, Kosak expects that number to start growing. Using the Webon editing tools, website builders can add the new social widgets to their Webon sites simply by dragging and dropping them onto the sites’ sidebars or main text areas.

Because it’s now part of the OpenSocial initiative, the Webon platform is also open to gadgets from other social sites that belong to the OpenSocial network. For example, a record of users’ activities on Webon can be published as an RSS feed, which can then be copied directly into a Facebook newsfeed (Facebook’s version of an activity stream). “If you have hundreds of friends on Facebook, we don’t want you to have to recreate your entire social graph on Webon,” says Kosak. “We let you take your activity stream and share that with people on Facebook.”

While all this talk of “social graphs” and “activity streams” may sound a bit technical, Webon is really all about “trying to bring this to the masses,” says Kosak. “Back in 1996, with Tripod, the goal was also to bring Web publishing to the masses—but the little asterisk next to ‘the masses’ was ‘as long as they knew a bit of HTML and were comfortable with FTP.’ The hurdles were still there.”

Kosak says that a team of market researchers hired by Lycos tried out the preview version of Webon on 4,000 people; before the tests, only 20 percent said they were interested in being able to build a website, and after the tests, 80 percent were. “There’s just a huge number of people out there who want to build websites but don’t want to have to buy HTML for Dummies or spend $399 on Dreamweaver or FrontPage,” says Kosak. “This is way for them to get into it.”

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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