Thursday, April 12, 2007

Personalized homepages?

Frantic Industries has a good review of widgetized personal homepages. He actually calls them "personalized portals" and they are also known as Webtops (Web desktops). I'm not sure I like either of those names. These tools will be at the heart of the "come to me" Web. I suspect with their strong emphasis on feeds that they may become the preferred feed reader for the majority of people. If they are going to be this important, could we possibly come up with a better name for these personal aggregation sites? We don't need to be re-portalizing the Web at a time when it is being so rapidly de-portalized. Should we have a contest to pick a better name?

That said, Stan does a darn good review. I use three of the tools highlighted in the shootout: Pageflakes, Netvibes, and Google Personalized Homepage. Each has their advantages. We prepared a Webcast on the use of these tools this week, and decided to show all three. We opted to focus and teach how to use Netvibes, however. I'm not sure I could tell you why we picked Netvibes, but one of the main reasons was that I was determined not to "unofficially" endorse another Google application. From the review:
It is impossible to pick one service from this bunch and say: this one is the best. But, a certain line can be drawn among them. Google Homepage, My.Yahoo and My.Netscape will attract their previous users, but although their offerings are not shabby by any standard, they do lag one step behind between Pageflakes and Netvibes. These two offerings, on the other hand, have to fight for each user, and they both do it well. The differences among them are minute, and one definitely has to try them both out before choosing one over the other.

I don't look for any one provider to dominate this application space. Netvibes has developed a Universal Widget API (UWA) which allows developers (and I use that word loosely) to write a widget that will run on any of the various widget platforms. So it's looking like this space might be pretty open going forward. Just pick one and use it. You can't go wrong.

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