Instead of going through an intermediary to buy or sell goods online, users of this type of network get in direct contact with one another, thus bypassing the destination sites (or portals).
Using the power of distributed computing, an open network is created by a host company that sells access to Web tools (such as chat, auctions and polling); interested Web sites subscribe to these tools and become affiliated with each other. Then, any user who can type a URL into their Web browser can access these affiliated sites (even if they're in a walled garden).
Even users who do not have a browser can participate. For example, visitor A e-mails chat session access information to friend B; once friend B opens the e-mail, the chat is launched, and he or she can participate from within the e-mail program.