"I'm bored... There's Nothing on the Internet!" The Argument for a Walled Garden

Mike Halsey MVP
Feb 13, 2011
Updated • Feb 13, 2011
Internet, Yahoo

The call "There's nothing on TV" has long been a common phrase in households around the world, but now I'm beginning hear people express disappointment with the quality and availability of good stuff on the Internet.  This has just gotta be absurd, right!?  Well, perhaps not.

There can be absolutely no doubting that the Internet is anything but boring.  There are billions of websites out there and so much fantastic content that it would be impossible to get bored.  Everything from games to videos, interactive websites, chat, education it's all there and there's so much of it.

The problem arises when you have to find this content.  How many of you, and feel free to comment below, generally tend to go to the same websites day-in day-out, week-in, week-out?  You'd probably be surprised just how many people don't experience the broader Internet.

I would include myself in this.  I have a hard-core of about 30 websites I visit on a regular basis and outside of that I tend not to explore too much for fun.

So why is this?  The problem lies in being able to find and access that content.  Back in the early days of the Internet we had services such as Yahoo! and AOL.  These companies aggregated content into portals and delivered us chunks of the Internet that were vetted, relevant to their users and interesting.  There was frequent criticism though of these services, especially AOL, just giving people access to a small walled-garden, and not to the wider world.  Eventually they fell out of favour with the general public and companies like Google stepped up to fill the gap.

Google's approach made a lot of sense to people, they would place at or near the top of their search results the websites that people used the most, that were the highest rated and linked to.  If you searched for anything on Google in the early days then you could guarantee to get the most popular websites for whatever category you wanted.

But then the Internet exploded in size and became commercialised.  Now for any search you perform you'll have to wade through a mountain of sales, price comparison, fake search and other services to find the exciting and engaging content you want.

This is where services like Bing stepped in with its decision engine.  With Bing Microsoft attempted to make search smarter by predicting what it was you were really looking for and giving you that.  It is a popular approach and one that's now often copied.  The problem with this approach though is that these heuristic search engines rarely work properly or effectively.  Whatever you search for you will still be bombarded with fake sites, search sites, price comparison and shopping sites and so on.

What the Internet needs, and needs badly, is a way to be able to aggregate the most fantastic content on the web so that you can find it quickly, efficiently and with the minimum of fuss.

To a certain extent social networking websites have stepped into the mould here and Facebook has been particularly successful at helping people to find and share engaging and interesting content.  Even Facebook now though is beginning to sag under their weight of commercialism and it's turning people away.  I've seen regular Facebookers' using the service much less than they used to as a result.

So what's the solution?  One section of society already has it.  Young children have plenty of services tailored for them where not only the most appropriate content but also the most interesting content is aggregated from across the web.  These services aren't free but they're an invaluable extra for parents who want to keep their children engaged, entertained and educated, while at the same time keeping them safe from advertising and inappropriate content.

Could a similar service work for adults?  I'd argue that yes it would, and moreover that it would be something that a great many people would be prepared to pay for.

Heuristic technologies exist today that can deliver this.  Companies can use their own computer systems and black/white lists to block inappropriate content.  They can monitor what websites and content we like and enjoy, give us more like that and ask us with questionnaires what subjects we like and what types of experiences we want online.

Is this giving up valuable information to advertisers who can deliver targeted ads to you?  Is this giving up the freedom to experience a truly independent Internet?  The answer to both questions is yes, but I'm not sure how many people would be too concerned.

Another walled garden, or a choice of them, where we could easily find and experience the best on the Internet that's relevant to us would be a very valuable service indeed.  In fact as social networking has to evolve into something I would argue that this is one distinctly possible future.

The Internet is simply too big to navigate on your own.  We'll never find all the best stuff out there and the main search engines are all letting us down in this regard.

So bring on the walled garden, make the Internet fun and engaging again and keep us busy and occupied for years to come.  It wouldn't be our only way to experience the web, just a portal website or browser plug-in that we could use.  We'd also still have Google, Bing and all the traditional ways of find our way around.  It would be an invaluable service for many however an I'd certainly pay something for that!


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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