What We Want From AOL’s OpenSource Homepage

By Matt Van Hoven 

AOL Launched their OpenSource homepage today; the once isolationist Web company has demolished its old-world thinking and replaced it with a, “how can we get people to think AOL is valid again?” philosophy. Way to go Time Warner, we’re glad you’re coming around (we’ll not mention the “eight seven seven, three nine three, four four four fouuuuuurrrr” spots for now).

So we headed to aol dot com slash newhomepage to see what all the fuss was about. Turns out, AOL has a solution to what we call “web incoherence” &#151 or the disconnect between the different Web portals we utilize. AOL’s solution was to create a homepage that allows users to access their many e-mail accounts (including gmail and Yahoo!mail), their social networking applications (facebook, twitter et al), their RSS feeds, their news feeds and the other interactive junk we absorb.


But there’s one huge flaw, at least we think so, that indicates this may not be the end-all-be-all AOL wants it to be. Not yet, anyway. Click continued to find out why.

More: “The AOL Eight

We’ll admit that after watching AOL’s intro video, which explains (in basic terms) the new features, we were excited about the potentially muy powerful tool. Could this be the answer to 400 tabs? If you’re like us, you fully utilize Firefox 3 and Safari, and right now are staring at 14 tabs in the former and three in the latter (ed’s note: Firefox has more because it does a better job managing my screw-ups; ie “undo tab close” and “Do you want Firefox to save your tabs for the next time it starts?”, which are simply genius).

But navigating so many pages at once is dizzying, and although they’re now in the same window, it’s be snazzy if they were all on one page, accessible by just a click or something. Like…oh I don’t know…a neatly organize desk. We’re constantly “apple’tabbing” through stuff as it is, so let’s par down the bs, and get organized!

For some, the new homepage will suffice; ultimately whether or not this site works for you depends on how you best compartmentalize your work. Personally, we’re in need of something more powerful; a more customizable tool; like a ’69 Camaro you can tweak to perfection. For instance, we want to be able to converge our work e-mail (a webmail product), but can’t on AOL. Why don’t they have an “other” option?

Clearly, this offering has limitations &#151 and though we acknowledge that we are potentially not in the demographic sought for this product, we hope to see someone do it better. That means AOL has the chance to upgrade (btw the site isn’t fully integrated ie accessing Twitter is not yet functioning). Or, like LinkedIn, this non-existent company can focus on integrating an AOL like platform with enhanced features…a “premium” edition, if you will. But who’d want to pay for that?

We could sit here all day and nitpick, but overall this is a step in the right direction for AOL. Are you in agreement with me that it lacks customizable functionality? Share your thoughts, below.