Today online, I’ve written about breakout – the real web game: as in, can you get from A to B online without using search engines? It tells you a lot about how much more interconnected the web has become.
The other day I found myself in a sports centre with a lot of time to kill while I waited for someone. There in the foyer was an internet kiosk. Great, I thought, waste some time on the net! It was just a browser with a keyboard. OK, no problem. But the browser was locked down: you could only view the pages it had loaded, or pages linking from them. You couldn’t enter a URL. At that moment the browser was showing the fantastic benefits of recent investment in the sports centre. Borrrrring!
Most importantly, you couldn’t use the search box in any page (which otherwise might have thrown up a Google result, or outbound link).
Huh. Unless I could find a way to break out of the kiosk’s limited pages onto the wider internet, it looked like I’d have to find some other way to pass the time.
Now, how could I get from there to the Guardian to see what was going on at the Technology blog? (Go ahead, try. Remember, you’re not allowed to use any search boxes or search engines such as Google. And because you’re pretending to be using a public kiosk, you don’t trust it with your username or password for any sites; you can only get to pages that any passing person would.)
…..which leads us back to ..
Years ago, the paradigm was all about trapping people on your site. There were in essence two species of site: “portals” (which tried to get people to go there by linking out to everywhere else, the ur-portal of course being Yahoo!) and “destinations”, which tried to be an internet black hole, offering no way out and aiming to keep you there until you clicked on an ad in sheer frustration.