Netvibes and the shift from the Portal to the App
One of the things on my list of to-dos is to write a think piece on an important trend which is becoming apparent – the shift from the Portal to the App. Basically this means the polarisation of the digital space between web-based infrastructure on the one hand and application style information management tools on the other. These tools may sit in the cloud (web) or be provided as a specific application which will sit on your desktop or mobile (or more accurately, sit in Windows or sit in Android). As a result, the web will stop being a destination and will become much more invisible – a piece of service infrastructure. This is really what people mean when they talk about the shift to mobile – it is not a shift to a particular device or platform (as some people think) but the evolution of a new, much more useful way, of using the web. It is also another example of the fact that the web has stopped being a medium of information and become a medium of connection and action.
A good example of this Twitter. You sign-up to Twitter on the web, but then never go back to Twitter again – you use TweetDeck, or Seesmic or any of the many other Twitter applications. This is Twitter’s big mistake – it didn’t develop an app to foster a symbiotic relationship with its portal and consequently has simply become a piece of infrastructure (which people don’t pay to use).
This post isn’t an attempt to write The Post – but simply an excuse to flag another interesting example of the trend. Netvibes is a great tool to use as the basis for building your own desktop monitoring hub, or dashboard. Last year Netvibes began pushing this idea further by trying to create a new verb – to dashboard – i.e. dashboarding. This means that you can now type a key word into Netvibes and it will automatically create a ready built information dashboard for you – it means you can dashboard anything. I advise anyone who is using Google to research a subject, to also type the same query into Netvibes, because not only does it pull up a lot of information, it immediately gives this information structure and becomes an information management tool, rather than just information. You also start to get a sense of the space around what it is you a researching, rather than just a series of places – which is what Google delivers.
An extension of this is something they have just done for the Consumer Electronics Show. They have created a dashboard for the show. Take a look at it – basically it does everything you would want a website to do, but it has presented this information as a tool, rather than a destination. You can adapt this tool to your own use, editing out or adding new feeds and tabs to it. It is a website, but many times more useful.
Just imagine if you were to create and make available a dashboard for your organisation? Why, in fact, have a website anymore – re-define your organisation as a series of information feeds and give people the tool to select and manage the feeds they want. Worth a thought.