PennWell has launched a new Web "portal" -- pulling content from some of its B2B magazines into a single site that also sells equipment for the energy industry.
It's a move that perplexes me.
I didn't understand the portal concept back before VerticalNet collapsed. I didn't understand the concept any better when Primedia tried it with Industryclick. The word "portal" refers to an entrance, a gateway. But every Web portal I've ever seen is something else entirely -- a silo, a one-stop, an attempt to monopolize and localize a user.
Perhaps most disappointing about PennWell's new venture is that it is the latest B2B publisher to announce a new Web strategy that fails to take advantage of the Web.
Take a look at this story on the site, or this one or this. (And can someone tell me why every one of those stories has two date stamps in two different styles? Jul-07-2005, 7 July 2005, July 7. Doesn't anyone look at these things after they are posted? Can't anyone agree on what the style is on dates?)
None of the stories have links -- either internal or external. There's no feedback function, no interactivity, no graphics.
Why would anyone bother to build a site like this?
For a look at what a B2B magazine site can be, take a look at CMO. I like that site more every time I look at it.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I do work for OPIS, which also covers the petroleum industry. But PennWell and OPIS concentrate on very different areas of the business and are not direct competitors. Also, it's only fair to note that OPIS has subscription-based electronic products -- email, Web applications, etc. -- that share PennWell's lack of interactivity. I hope to change that.
tags: journalism, b2b, media, trade press, magazines, newsletters