I initially invented the term "Open Portal" to describe how portals like Yahoo! or Ask might evolve a larger strategy to reach all that lies beyond their own destination sites. But individual websites can take the same cue with surprisingly little effort.
Open Portal Websites (OPWs) invite members to bring everything they are into the
website experience (friends, family, hobbies, thoughts, ideas, videos, photos, blogs) and invite them to take a piece of that experience with them when they leave (widgets, feeds, RSS). It's not just about reaching people with effective SEO and it goes beyond creating programming for your own URL. The goal of an OPW is to program the entire web! And your audience should do most of the hard work for you.
OPWs are living, breathing organisms that swell and grow with user "stuff"; and like living things their children help them duplicate and grow virally as they wander off and connect to other people and places.
To enable major media and other websites to transform their websites into Open Portal experiences, platforms must provide user-generated content, social networking,
video messaging, multi-media discussion boards, widget building, video players and a
host of tools that invite meaningful user participation. But enabling functionality is simply not enough.
User features must be built upon media management, member management, administration and reporting layers that support fast, safe, customizable deployments (a service-oriented architecture with easy to use UI objects and robust APIs). It's one thing to enable Open Portals, but it's quite another for traditional media and niche websites to feel safe with all this “openness”. Without management tools, abuse and offensive material will scare off major brands and advertisers. So behind the scenes, we must remember to include a measure of both form and structure.
A final thought... Windows transformed DOS by allowing application developers an easy way to innovate without the necessity of building the same structures (print, file management) over and over again. It's time for an analogous development for web developers. A kind of "internet operating system"...a platform that provides developers with more than a language...instead, it will provide a wide range of business components, hosting and services...callable at any time, by anyone at little or no cost.
Check back soon...there's much more to talk about!