In the past few months, this column has addressed the trend of "portals," those jump-station sites where you're supposed to begin your journey onto the Web. Although hasn't officially become a portal, it is where I often begin my Web sessions. I go to read Wired's superior tech features, but there's another reason: At the bottom of their top page they feature pointers to interesting stories at other tech news sites. Since I like Wired's content there's no reason why I shouldn't know its perspective on other sites

This perk is low-key yet radical. Imagine the print edition of The Japan Times sticking in page-one blurbs urging readers to check out this week's lifestyle feature in the Asahi Evening News or the media page at the Daily Mainichi. Hard to visualize, isn't it?

They say information wants to be free, but many Web sites want to make it exclusive, and they bundle it up in synergistic mergers. The bottom line is portals want to keep eyeballs within their domain, and if they can't, they at least want to make sure that they send eyeballs to a partner, not a competitor.