Netvibes, maker of the single-page aggregator (or metagator) that I favor, is making an aggressive announcement at the Web 2.0 Expo. The company is launching the "Netvibes Universes" project. It's a simple technical improvement to the current service, but it's a bit of a business coup.
Netvibes Universes allows content creators to create custom Netvibes aggregation pages. What's technically new is that content owners can now customize the look and feel of their pages, and publish them as standalone Web pages with semifriendly URLs (for example: www.netvibes.com/icecube). Fully friendly URLS--in other words, custom Web addresses--will come later.
The business coup is that Netvibes signed up over 100 publishing partners, including recording artists like Mandy Moore and 50 Cent, and major media like Time, USA Today, and The Washington Post. All their Netvibes pages will be available on Monday.
It's hard to say if the Universes pages be better than their publishers' own home pages. They are different. A custom-designed home page can really stand out, but with more people finding content through "side doors" like blog posts, Digg, and aggregators like Netvibes, the front pages of content sites matter less than they used to. It makes sense, then, for some publishers to use off-the-shelf services like Universes to publish front pages that are almost as attractive, and far easier to modify, than all the individually coded front pages that sites now support.
Netvibes told me that it will make the Universes functionality available to all its users by June. At the moment, it's possible for ordinary Netvibes users to share a Netvibes page only with other users, and you can't customize the page nor specify a standalone URL for it.
In related news, Netvibes competitor Pageflakes is releasing its Flurry feature at Web 2.0 Expo. By interviewing you about your location and your interests, this update makes it even easier to get started with the service. I interviewed Pageflakes CEO Dan Cohen in February. It's a great product--I'd use it if I wasn't already hooked on Netvibes.
Both Netvibes and Pageflakes make better start pages than the majors (Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google), although in the long run that won't matter because the big guys can easily grab the lion's share of traffic. For that reason I think Netvibes' direction is very smart. Instead of focusing on making a better product for individuals, the company is now embarking on a business-to-business strategy, too, and hopes to reach new users not only directly, but through its business clients.
Read on for more preview screenshots from Netvibes.
Social networking and content-hosting site eSnips has rolled out a new feature in time for Web 2.0 Expo: eSnips Multi-Channel Radio plays music uploaded to the site by users.
Currently the channels are organized by music genre, but eventually users will be able to create their own personal radio station, which can include material across multiple genres of music.
All original material hosted on the site is eligible to be played on the channels. Users can "favorite" a song and rate whether they liked it or hated it. Each channel in a genre plays the 40 most … Read more
Several prominent personalities in the Web 2.0 media space have taken more than a passing interest in Justin.TV. Geek bloggers Chris Pirillo and Robert Scoble, as well as Jeremiah Owyang of the Web Strategies blog (and an advisor to Scoble's company, PodTech.net) have set up their own livecasts using the streaming service UStream. (To find their shows, search for their names on the site.)
Their streams are not what I would call must-see. The other day I watched Scoble drive from his home in Half Moon Bay to his wife's relative's house in Merced. … Read more
Video hosting and sharing service Viddler has undergone a facelift this morning just in time for the Web 2.0 Expo. Embedded videos now have Viddler branding, and a new drop-down menu filled with sharing and embedding options. Users are also now able to comment on video clips, not just certain moments of a video.
What's neat about the update player is that it takes the community experience that you get on Viddler, and puts it on any site where a player is embedded. Anyone with a Viddler username and password can login from the embed, and add or browse comments, tags or notes. Pretty neat.
I've embedded an example video below. Previous Viddler coverage here.
UPDATE: Added Viddler's self-made explanatory video after the jump. We see quite a few screencasts here at Webware, and this is one of the better ones out there.… Read more
We're kicking off the first user-generated Web 2.0 awards program: The Webware 100.
Why? Because there are more new sites and services than any mortal can possibly process, much less evaluate. And because the community of Webware users, in the aggregate, has a very good idea of what works and what's worth your time. This awards program will collate and organize that wisdom.
The Webware 100 will have 10 categories (see end of post), and there will be 10 winners in each. Here's how the awards program will work:
The program kicks off April 16 with … Read more
Justin Kan of Justin.tv talked about how easy it is to promote your site or product with the right strategy. It also doesn't hurt to have a camera hooked to a laptop, with an EV-DO connection streaming every second of your life. Our previous Justin.tv coverage here and here. Surreal moment of the talk? Checking Justin.tv and seeing him talking to us. Creepy
I'm at O'Reilly's Web 2.0 Expo kick-off, called Ignite--which is what most speakers are doing to the microphone. The premise is simple, you've got 20 slides, and each one automatically advances every 15 seconds.The result? Speakers sound like they're running a live auction.
Notably, ZDNet's Ryan Stewart gave us a brief overview of his blog, Advancing User Experience with Rich Internet Applications, and told the audience we should keep our eyes on Adobe's Apollo (previous coverage).
I got a chance to sit down with the founders of the people search engine, Spock, in advance of the company's grand unveiling, which will be during the LaunchPad sessions at the Web 2.0 Expo. Spock is Yet Another Search Engine, but it's an important one--it searches for people. You type in a name and it will show you everything it knows about that person and where it found the data. Or, if you search on a term, it will find people that match it. For example, search for "boxer," and Mohammad Ali shows up, … Read more
Several exhibitors at next week's Web 2.0 Expo are recreating the desktop workspace experience by using new Web technologies such as Ajax and Adobe Flex. This isn't a new idea, but what is interesting is how many of them have forgone creating their own tools and stuck to integrating existing Web services in a stylized portal platform.
Zcubes attempts to emulate a desktop workspace with nearly 30 different tools that mimic desktop applications. With most of the tools relegated to things like casual drawing, comic strips, and Web browsing, the emphasis of the suite is fun.