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Kim Hart

AOL unveiled the first feature of a new home page today aiming to regain the eyeballs it lost as it has phased out its subscription service.

The company plans to revamp its entire site to let consumers customize the portal to fit their own tastes. Starting today, visitors to the site can log onto their Gmail and Yahoo email accounts as well as their AOL accounts. Sometime in the next six weeks, AOL will start to let consumers receive their own mix of RSS feeds directly to the bottom of the site. In October, you'll be able to log into Facebook, MySpace and Twitter from the site, as well as Bebo, which AOL acquired earlier this year for $850 million.

The changes are part of a broader effort to get people to stay on longer -- and get more advertising revenue -- rather than using it as a starting point before going elsewhere. AOL has branded itself as more of a portal site, similar to and Microsoft's, where people come to check their email and quickly browse the top headlines and other site content.

But Web audiences continue to fragment, going directly to favorite sites, blogs and social networks to find niche material they're interested in, rather than going to a centralized homepage for a round-up of general information. For example, AOL will eventually let users find content from more than 3,000 local news sites from around the country, so Washingtonians can get news from the Washington Examiner as well as the Washington Post. That capability is made possible from the integration of Relegance, the real-time news service AOL bought two years ago.

"If we want to remain relevant as a launching pad, we have to accept the fact that we have to be a starting point for all of the Web and not just our own stuff," said James Clark, vice president of AOL's home page operations.

The new approach is not trying to supplant Facebook or Gmail, Clark said, but rather to be an aggregator. So a consumer can immediately see if they have new messages in their Yahoo inbox and any Facebook friend requests instantly without logging onto the individual sites.

Other companies, such as Pageflakes and NetVibes allow users to create customized home pages, as well as the widely used iGoogle. AOL says it's the first large portal to allow visitors to control the information they can access through the site. Letting Web users log onto multiple social networks also gives AOL an opportunity to play up the new -- and expensive -- addition to it's line-up: Bebo.

Bebo is the third-largest social networking site on the Web, and is part of a major push by AOL to attract younger audiences. The company is also trying to appeal to the female set with new content in categories such as parenting, health and movies. The main stories highlighted yesterday on the site included a discussion about Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain's running mate, a list of the top life insurance policies, a how-to guide on vanquishing driveway stains, and a video of Pamela Anderson strutting her stuff on the Ellen Degeneres Show. AOL also launched LemonDrop today, a women's site.

By Kim Hart  |  September 10, 2008; 3:53 PM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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I wish AOL much luck with this...I just hope the audience who is interested in social networking and RSS feeds has a chance of discovering this kind of featureset on AOL.

Posted by: Jared Goralnick | September 10, 2008 4:51 PM

Palin Despite all the scandals and the alledged affair,

She is more in touch with the American People. I guess people feel like she is one of us. The same way I felt about Huckabee. First commenter is right. Obama should of Picked Hillary. If he loses, It was his pride that cost him this election.

Theyre are rumors swirling that Sarah Palin may be Pregnant again? How will that affect her VP spot??

I like Palin, I just wish it was a Huckabee/Palin ticket.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2008 4:54 PM

Figures someone named "Anonymous" would blindly call Palin someone who is "one of us". That woman is NOTHING like your average American citizen. She has lied to her constituents, lied to the American people when McCain chose her and saved her biggest lies for the Republican convention.

Ask yourself: do I want this woman to be one step away from the Presidency, when there are so many unethical and unconscionable decisions she's made which have hurt countless people, all in the name of promoting herself as a people's candidate?

Vote NO on McCain and Palin!
Vote YES on Obama and Biden!

Posted by: Matt | September 10, 2008 6:08 PM

Maslow’s “Take” on the Election

By Bob Mann, Golf Professional

Abraham Maslow said “To distract people from higher needs, threaten their lower needs.”
The Republican strategy of giving their convention a war and patriotism theme was quite brilliant. It changed the focus from such issues as health care, education, global warming and long term alternate energy development, and even to large measure, the economy; to the more fundamental human need to feel safe.

As Bob Woodward noted in his recent interview with Larry King, the President is not the Commander in Chief of the economy or global warming. The President is the Commander in Chief of the military.

The polls have shown that Senator McCain is perceived by the American public as more suited to be responsible for national security than Senator Obama. The Republicans are openly selling “inexperience” vs. Obama, but less openly they are selling “fear”. Ultimately, the peoples greatest fear, for themselves, and their families, is annihilation.

Unfortunately many people see bravado talk and aggressive action as the “answers” to fear related national security issues. (This, coupled with Senator McCain’s military service and family heritage gives many people a greater sense of false security.) However, the reverse is true; reserve, caution, negotiation, and having a strong military in reserve enhance national security. As President Clinton said, “..we lead by the power of our example, not by the example of our power.”

In spite of the evidence that we are militarily weaker as a result of the ill-founded invasion of Iraq, proposed by Senator McCain long before it actually occurred; a majority of Americans see Senator McCain’s approach to national security as being better then Senator Obama’s. Iraq has our military so over extended that we are not well prepared to face other situations that may arise, and are more likely to arise, because others recognize that we are over extended, which weakens our negotiating position.

Senator McCain continues to make hawkish noise; including implied threats that, as well as being inflammatory to other countries who might pose a threat, also distances us from our European allies.

In October 1st, 2003 on ABC nightline Senator McCain was asked how much more money the war would cost. He replied, “Estimates I hear as much as 50 to $55 billion more.” When asked, “Over a course of how many years?” McCain answered, “..four or five years.” Five years have passed with no end in sight, and Senator McCain’s estimate of maximum cost has been surpassed by approximately 10 to 1.

Senator McCain brags about his support of the Surge and its effectiveness. This claim is subject to serious question as many experts believe that the turn around in Iraq was more attributable to putting the enemies on our payroll. Moreover, Senator McCain’s bragging about the Surge can be compared to the person who makes a bad judgment about maintaining their car, but brags about repairing it at a cost many multiples of the original neglected service.

Senator McCain’s selection of Governor Palin to be a heartbeat away from a position of invoking nuclear holocaust on the world raises additional questions about his judgment, decision making process, and his motives.

Senator Obama’s campaign needs to make it clear that Senator McCain’s aggressiveness, has in the past, and will in the future, if left unbridled, weaken us militarily by depleting resources. It is not enough to merely point out Senator McCain’s bad judgment, the other shoe must drop, and Senator McCain’s bad judgment and hasty reactions must be clearly defined as weakening national security if permitted to affect our future. Senator Obama’s approach, using military force only as a last resort, and only following negotiation, strengthens us in two ways:
A) Enables negotiations to be conducted from a position of un-dissipated strength
B) Holds military might in reserve to use when and if genuinely required.

Senator Obama’s plan for better treatment of returning veterans coupled with his educational and occupational proposals for military personnel enhances recruiting and thus is superior for strengthening us militarily as compared to Senator McCain’s approach.

The Importance of rebuilding our alliances around the world should be more emphatically communicated as well, so Americans understand that we are stronger and more secure having Senator Obama as our next President, (who our European allies prefer over McCain by a 9 to 1 margin).

When Americans come to understand the superiority of Senator Obama’s temperament and approach to national security, compared to Senator McCain’s, they will recognize that Senator Obama is far more qualified to serve as Commander in Chief.

Posted by: Bob Mann | September 10, 2008 7:43 PM

why are you guys posting paline and other totally non-related stuff here? seriously? nobody cares.

Posted by: lamer | September 11, 2008 1:55 PM

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