- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2006

Media reports today are abuzz with news of the “relaunch” of Netscape’s Web portal home page as a kind of home-brew, come-as-you-are blogging thing where “readers” pick the news that’s interesting, which keeps Matt Lauer’s confrontation with author Ann Coulter that happened last week higher in the rankings than, say, stuff that happened yesterday. According to reporter Chris Gaither of the Los Angeles Times:

AOL plans today to relaunch its Netscape Internet portal as an experiment in community journalism, trying to recapture the magic of the once-famous online brand.

Netscape will rely on its users to submit, rank and comment on news stories, videos and blog postings from across the Web. Stories will be organized into 30 categories, such as movies, travel and money.

The user-participation approach borrows from the model of tech sites such as Digg and Slashdot, and stands in contrast to Google News’ reliance on software for compiling relevant stories.

“It’s kind of a meta-journalism,” said Jason McCabe Calacanis, the AOL senior vice president who oversaw the Netscape redesign.

Sorry to disagree with Mr. Calacanis, whose Silicon Alley Reporter magazine fizzled after the dot-com bust (full disclosure, I wrote an article for that publication once), but it’s not meta-anything. It’s a mish-mash. The reason I set a given site as a homepage (sometimes it’s myYahoo.com, more often it’s Google) is because someone or something (i.e., Google’s computers) doing some of the work for me. I trust those guys — can’t say why, but I do — and I trust the editors of a newspaper to do their story selected. Do I want to trust another blogging member of the “Pajamahadeen”? I’m not sure.

My reaction to the “new” Netscape evokes thoughts of a cartoon that first appeared in The New Yorker magazine on December 8, 1928. It showed a child refusing to eat some broccoli, which had been a relatively recent addition to America’s food choices. And the caption underneath says, “I say it’s spinach, and I say the h— with it”!

I think this “new” Netscape is a load of spinach.

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