Some time in early November, Pageflakes went down, and it hasn’t come back yet. Pageflakes is a free web “start page” service. It let’s one aggregate a variety of web resources, especially dynamic feeds of information from other sites, onto single pages, by way of widgets. It also provided special functions that other similar services didn’t, like mini-blogs, message boards, and so on. I had come to depend on Pageflakes to present materials I found on the web, bringing together the sundry other tools I use to track useful information, including the blogroll in the sidebar of this page you’re reading now. Now I have to begin again.
Pageflakes’ main competitors are StumbleUpon and Netvibes. StumbleUpon is interesting in that it helps you explore the web in interesting ways, but it doesn’t provide the tools I prefer to use. Netvibes is very close to Pageflakes, lacking only a couple of tools I like, but it is an extremely polished and highly usable service. I’d actually started with Netvibes, some years ago, but switched to Pageflakes because of services like the mini-blogs and messaging systems. While Pageflakes was a little clumsy compared to Netvibes, I thought it won roundly on functionality. So I was quite happy with it, and used it quite a bit.
I’ve written elsewhere about Pageflakes and why I chose it over Netvibes, and I won’t repeat myself here. I will say, however, that I found very useful to organize and present web resources. I use Google Reader, Diigo and Zotero to track web resources of interest. I was able to package all these sources of information into a single, consistent bundle with Pageflakes. This is important to me because one of my main functions as a professor is to find really good information and make it available to my students and colleagues. Pageflakes let me do that.
I also had plans to base more courseware on Pageflakes, using its blog and messaging systems to get students more involved in the courses I taught, and collaborate better with colleagues.
Well, that’s all gone now, I think. Pageflakes has been down for some time, the site’s main page only gives a trite message that it will be back “soon,” and I can find no information on Google about what’s going on. It smells a lot like Pageflakes Inc. has folded. I don’t know for sure, and I really hope not, but it sure looks that way to me. (Please note: I have no reliable information whatsoever about the current state of Pageflakes, and no one should read this and think that I do. I’m just running on my experience mucking about with the web since its early days in the mid-1990s.)
So back to Netvibes I go. And it will be hard. I’ve lost some information permanently because it was stored only in Pageflakes, like a mini-blog about my work in the City Move workshop in Malmberget, back in 2009. Likewise some notes I’d made on sundry topics are stuck in limbo. I know I should have found some way of backing stuff up, even if only as OPML exports, but it honestly didn’t cross my mind that this kind of service failure could happen. Mea culpa.
So there will be a slight delay while I update my old Netvibes site, try to put in as much as I can remember I had in Pageflakes, and tweak all the feeds here and on other sites I run to point to Netvibes.
Will I go back to Pageflakes if it ever comes back? I don’t know. They’ve burned me pretty badly; fool me twice, as they say, shame on me. But I learnt a long time ago to never say never, so I’ll be patient, wish Pageflakes the best, and see what the future holds.