Lycos, the surviving search portal owned by Korea's Daum Communications, is making a new entr??Â«e onto the Web today with Webon, a Web publishing platform for consumers that leverages the OpenSocial API Google created to socialize the Internet.
Webon is powered by an OpenSocial wrapped social engine that powered the failed Lycos Circles community offering from 2005.
Lycos believes it is a more viable solution than Adobe's Dreamweaver, Microsoft's Office FrontPage and Web Expression or any other Web site creation platform for the current Web 2.0 environment we find ourselves in.
"Most of the current Web 2.0 or Web site building tools let you build a nice looking static Web page with text and images, but they are missing the truly dynamic interactive social aspects that you should be able to build with a Web site building tool today," Lycos CTO Don Kosak told me.
To give you perspective on Web creation tools, there was a time when only programmers could build Web sites. Eventually users with a yearning to put a site up online started learning HTML and tools to build their sites. These tools cost a few hundred dollars and don't typically provide for easy updates or social interaction.
For example, users who want to use Dreamweaver to add social assets to the sites they create would have to "become systems integrators," Kosak said.
Forget the site-building tools and HTML coding. Webon lets users with no technical training beyond using a word processing program create full-bodied Web sites with a WYSIWYG drag-and-drop interface and text and photo editing tools.
Users have their Web site on their screen and click and type directly on the page. Users can also integrate blogs, wikis, photo albums and widgets from other sites, and save changes as they make them.
This rich Internet application supports apps compatible with OpenSocial, which could be quite a few as Google's OpenSocial-based Friend Connect tool catches on.
Webon also enables profiles with activity streams that let visitors track site updates; supports OpenID for blog and photo album comments, as well as participation in the blogosphere through RSS, pinging and trackback functionality.
Kosak told me that Webon is for "mass market consumers." Lycos is offering it as a "fremium" model, meaning it is free for each consumer to construct up to first six Web sites and includes the storage space to run 300 photos across those six sites.
Lycos also offers for $8.95 a month a Webon plan that includes one domain name to publish your site on, unlimited photo storage and eventually, video support.
I did a double take upon hearing this. Here is my issue and I still can't get my head around it. I asked Kosak if consumers really wanted to launch six Web sites. He said that early Lycos tests of Webon showed that consumers got hooked; once they created one site and launched it with ease, they wanted to create more.
I understand the addictive nature of the Web but this is ridiculous. Six Web sites per person?! That is madness.
It reminds me of that sobering scene in Jurassic Park where Jeff Goldblum's character Ian Malcolm condemns the manufacturing of dinosaurs by mankind, noting "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should."
No, we shouldn't enable lay users to create more than two Web sites. There's no need to clutter the Web, which is littered with enough garbage.
On the whole though, Webon, is a cool tool and should gain traction. Time will tell if Lycos will make money from this latest attempt at community building after Circles failed four years ago.