Start here: Pageflakes meets the metagators

Start here: Pageflakes meets the metagators

I've recently sung the praises of "metagator" (meta-aggregator) sites such as Popurls and Original Signal. These sites display data from RSS feeds on particular topics. They're very useful if you're trying to get the lay of the land.

But one size does not fit all, in metagators or in search, and there are several personal home pages that are essentially customizable metagators--including My Yahoo, Microsoft Windows Live, Google Home, Netvibes, and others.

One of the others is Pageflakes, recently updated with new features. It's a less popular site than Netvibes, but it's definitely worth looking at. Like Netvibes and other custom start pages, Pageflakes lets you easily add RSS feeds to your page--just enter the URL of the main site, and it will discover the feed. Pageflakes also has widgets you can put on your pages--clocks, maps, Flickr feeds, and so on.

Pageflakes' unique feature is the capability to share pages you've designed with either particular individuals or the entire Pageflakes user base. Likewise, you can import other users' "templates" of pages on various topics, then modify them if you wish. This makes it easy to build a highly personalized Pageflakes setup.

Sites such as Pageflakes serve a dual use. They're very good start pages, of course. But they're also effective RSS readers. I still use RSS reader sites (Newsgator and Google Reader [blog post] are my favorites right now), but I've found myself using them less and favoring Netvibes for most of my quick RSS scanning. Pageflakes is now in my browser quick links, too. We'll see if I find it as useful as Netvibes. It does seem to load slightly faster, which is a plus.

As much as I like these independent start pages, though, for many people, the mainstream products from Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft will be good enough. Google's personalized home page, in fact, won our recent comparison, There's no place like a home page.

(By the way, I stumbled across another metagator: Popruls.com. That's right, if you mistype popurls, you get a site much like it. It's not as attractive a reader as Popurls, nor as capable as Netvibes or Pageflakes, but it is customizable, which is a bizarre achievement for a site that's surviving on typo traffic.)

 

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