The Internet has changed a lot in the last twenty years as the days of the flat world wide web have been replaced by the interactive live web. Personal homepages, one stop shops for news updates, calendars, email and everything else, have become more prominent as the web has become so much a part of everyday life. This development could explain the influx of Ajax based homepage products that have been recently catching people's attention and getting funded.
Niall Kennedy recently published a brief history of the programmed personal homepage which is worth taking a look at. It offers a good point of reference in determining how far the homepage has come which could lead to a better understanding of direction homepages are going.
One interesting comment by Greg Linden came from the article's ensuing conversation in which he pointed out:
"The vast majority of My Yahoo users do no configuration at all; they use the default, non-personalized page.
The problem with customizable pages is that they require work to set up. The vast majority of people are unwilling to do work."
This is a great point and as homepages continue to evolve this will have to be taken into account.
*Thank you to Brooke Novak for the image via Flickr and CC licensing.