If you haven’t already read my post on Lifestream – Could it be the next big thing , then take a look to familiar yourself with the concept. There have been a slew of Startpages that have started to really mature lately. They currently provide the best mashup platform to be used for a Lifestream. I thought it would be a good idea to provide what I believe is currently the quickest and simplest platform independent system to allow for someone to create a Lifestream they could share with others.
I didn’t select Pageflakes all willy nilly. I actually spent quite a bit of time defining a set of contenders to use, created a standard lifestream based on the one I created here on my site, and then compared each sites features and functionality. I started with the current top three contenders in the Startpage space which are Netvibes, Pageflakes, and newcomer Webwag. I’m only going to do provide a quick summary of how I used these sites to create a Lifestream and not go into the full functionality they offer. If you haven’t tried these sites though, I recommend that you do because they are great. Below are some details regarding the process and screenshots of each of the pages:
Netvibes is considered the top player in the Startpage category so I thought I’d start with them. They offer a very clean and responsive design. I quickly added each custom RSS feed into its own module. There are several controls offered for each feed module including, number of items to display, title, and color. They already had existing modules for Flickr and Del.icio.us which offer some additional options the feeds don’t. After adding all of the modules I used their fancy Ajax drag and drop to align the modules the way I wanted them to appear on the page. I kept this scheme the same across all three sites for consistency.
I then moved on to Pageflakes and proceeded to go through the same process. Luckily this was pretty painless since Netvibes offered the ability to export all the modules as an OPML file which I then imported into Pageflakes. They also offer the custom modules and in addition to the Flickr and Del.icio.us ones that were provided by Netvibes, they also offered a Youtube one. So I killed the RSS feed and added that module instead which offered more functionality and details to the module. Pageflakes also offers the ability to export any module as a widget where they provide html for you to embed the content on your own site which is a nice touch. The user interface was pretty much the same as Netvibes, but what ultimately sealed the deal for Pageflakes which no other site offered was the ability to share the startpage. You can view mine here. This is of course an essential feature for creating a Lifestream and was why I selected them, but beyond the sharing I liked their feature set the most. I believe the others sites may add this ability in the future.
Webwag is one of the newer players and appears to be a little behind the Netvibes and Pageflakes in terms of functionality. They did not currently offer the custom modules for Flickr, Del.icio.us, or Youtube like the others offered. But I was able to import my OPML file flawlessly and if you’re looking for a more minimalistic implementation you may want to consider them.
You may be wondering why I didn’t consider using any of the big three (Yahoo, Google, Microsoft). Well I did and they were weeded out pretty fast. None of them offered competing functionality that I felt was better than Pageflakes. They also aren’t very elegant in their UI implementation and I feel are far behind the curve. Also you can’t share your page with any of them which I already stated was a nail in the coffin.
I also tried a few others including Protopage, Yourminis, Suprglu, and a few others. But none seemed to offer the features and quick ease of use as the others. I still would recommend that if Startpages are new to you, that it’s worth playing around with them as they are great and can support a large variety of uses that may be appealing to you.
You can read on about Startpages at the links below: