Lycos offers OpenSocial Web-publishing tool

Lycos has released a new Web-publishing tool based on Google's OpenSocial API that allows users to create Web sites that take advantage of social networks, the company said Tuesday.

Lycos also revealed developer tools on Tuesday that allow users to build OpenSocial-based gadgets that work within the new platform, called Webon, said Lycos CTO Don Kosak.

Webon allows users to create interactive Web sites using a drag-and-drop and text-based user interface that "is as easy to use as a word processor," he said.

Lycos compared the tool to Google Pages, but with a more dynamic aspect that allows users to integrate features of other social networks -- such as a Facebook news feed, or blog entries -- into a site. It is also akin to the Tripod and Angelfire Web site-hosting services Lycos already offers.

Webon's use of OpenSocial, a common API (application programming interface) for social applications across multiple Web sites that is based on JavaScript and HTML, enables the integration of social-networking features, Kosak said. Other sites that leverage OpenSocial include Engage.com, Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, Plaxo, Salesforce.com and Six Apart.

Webon is available free, but users can purchase a premium version, which includes a domain name, unlimited photo storage and the forthcoming ability to upload videos, for US$8.95 per month.

Lycos was founded in the 1990s as one of the early Internet search engines and portals in the U.S., and has changed hands over the years.

Parent company and Spanish telecommunications provider Telefonica sold Lycos -- then called Terra Lycos -- to Korea's second-largest Internet portal, Daum Communications, in October 2004. Though it's not as high-profile as portals like Yahoo, MSN and AOL, Lycos remains a popular Web destination.

Since its purchase by Daum, Lycos has had three lines of business -- search; a social media group with properties such as Lycos Cinema and Gamesville; and publish communities, which includes the Tripod and Angelfire services. Webon is an addition to that third part of the business, Kosak said.

Lycos is also different from other Web portals in that its revenue is derived from premium services rather than online advertising, he added.

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