I love Google. They’re not perfect, but they’re one of the best companies out there. And, I’d note, though they pay careful attention to what people say about them and their products, it seems that their primary source of direction and innovation is their own expertise. This may fly in the face of some basic tenets of design, but it’s working for Google. Indeed, this summer looks to be another fascinating googletime.
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.
How does Google do it? They keep producing all this great stuff! This time, it’s new theming capabilities for their blog service, Blogger. Yes, many people have become a little bored with the relatively stale themes that Blogger offers. They’ve added several new, very fresh themes, and more functionality to tweak existent themes and create your own.
You can see one of these themes at my nascent productivity blog: Do Fast and Well.
The new stuff is currently only available via the “beta” blogger site: Blogger in Draft, which provides an illuminating write-up about the new features. Besides the fresh look of the new themes, there’s a lot more flexibility in terms of matching colours of gadgets to the theme, varying the background images, and layout of columns and where gadgets appear.
Google ain’t perfect, but they’re sure getting close!
One year after it’s inception, foswiki is setting itself up as a great wiki engine.
A wiki is a software platform that facilitates collaborative web content development. Invented in 1995 by Ward Cunningham, this approach to content development was brought to serious public attention by Wikipedia, an attempt to create a collaborative encyclopedia of knowledge. While Wikipedia may have its problems as an encyclopedia, the software that makes it work, a wiki engine called MediaWiki, has become one of the gold standards of open source software.
Recently, on CBC Spark, host Nora Young interviewed Luis Suarez about quitting email at work. You can also see Suarez’s Web 2.0 Expo talk at Youtube. It got me thinking about the role of software in our lives – especially in our work lives, and that regardless of how many new applications and systems are popping up, we’re still missing the Next Big Thing – maybe. Continue reading