Monday, August 24, 2009

The Personal Web

There has been a growing trend in recent years towards a 'personal web' which allows people to have a personal online experience without clutter and information overload. Emarketing has been a leader in this field through personalised advertising by using profile data such as that available in Facebook. However, more and more the personal web has become about users deciding what they want to see and how they want to see it. For example igoogle, pageflakes and Netvibes allow users to create a personalised home page with only the gadgets, news and tools they want to see. These services make it possible for one page to contain your: email, calendar, RSS, docs, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, YouTube and much more. This essentially creates a single personal web portal which diminishes the need to be constantly navigating between all these sites individually.

RSS was the first big step in personalising the web by allowing all the blogs, news and awareness services you follow to be aggregated by an RSS Reader such as Google reader. The personal web takes this idea one step further by collecting all your social networks, calendars, emails, news, blogs etc all to the one personal online portal. This process began with sites such as igoogle but now for example, Facebook has such a wide network and variety of apps available that it is able to compete as a personal web portal.

Mobile devices are also leading the way on the personal web front through the proliferation of apps and the improved technology of smart phones. Apps are available to help you with the usual tasks such as: email, news and social networking but some of the more unusual ones can also help you: create a personal soundtrack to your life, track and plan your daily exercise and hygiene regimes, help you find a public toilet or create a digital postcard from a photo to send to your friends. No two mobile devices in the world would have the exact same set of apps and the way people use these apps would be even more varied.

There is now so much information available, tools to use, news to follow and places to look that it can seem impossible to keep up. A personal web diminishes the stress and burden of keeping up with all of this by providing a single portal containing only the things you need. There are so many more examples of personalising the web and I aim to continue blogging on this theme. Future topics will include: Google wave, Hunch, augmented reality, Drupal, mashups and how these things could be used in future library contexts.

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