Monday, May 07, 2007

iGoogle versus Netvibes (versus Yahoo! versus MSN versus A Billion Others...)

The gloves are on, the bookies are taking bets, and everyone is gathering around for... wait, wait... does anyone care? I don't. Here's why.

Seriously who uses these things? Do you have such a light inflow of email and feeds that you can afford the time to keep these Yahoo-loving pages up to see and barely do a damn thing? If you aren't keeping this page as your top window, there is little point. The whole thing is about passive information. Oh, look at that quote. Hmm, its 7 AM.

If we're going to build web services that collect a lot of tools around a single page, then personalized home pages are entirely the wrong direction to take. We're an always on kind of computer using society, so how often do you see a homepage? Hell, I don't even set my homepage anymore, because I only see it once every month or so.

However, I do have my feed reader open and look at it at least once per hour that I'm actually at my computer. I can't think of anything that couldn't or shouldn't be pushed right through there. My GMail inbox, event notifications, quote of the days, and everything else would be far better pushed through one hole: my reader. The fun little widgets are interesting distractions, but they don't have a place in a reader, and there really is no love loss there. They serve no purpose and even as entertainment are barely on anyone's radar.

Again, however, there are some cases where the things we're doing in widgets could easily be adapted to a feed environment. Take, for example, the common widget/gadget in all widget/gadget families, which might be a simple 15 Pieces game. It would make no sense to have such a widget (and many widgets are equally insensible), which takes up space to be so sparsely used. Sparse used doesn't diminish the actual use, so how can it fit? Let it come up in my feed reader every now and then. I can play a bit and then continue reading, knowing that it will come around again to continue later. Information is nice when its in tiny chunks.

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I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.

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