I’m not an “early adopter.” I rarely listen to podcasts. I don’t check email on my cell phone. I think Jeff Jarvis was right in saying that the providers of blogging software and services have not gotten their products to a point where a user need not worry about technical issues. Of course, the other side of the coin says that even televisions, the ultimate “user friendly” technology, can still occasionally be frustrating. My question is always, “Does the utility of a piece of technology outweigh its demands?” In other words, is there a positive usefulness-blind rage ratio?
Whether or not I adopt a piece of technology—a product, software, a service—has always been how well it serves my dirty, sinful urges. I have three criteria for evaluating technology. My. That sounds fancy. There’s no “evaluation process” going on. I just thought about what I like and all the communications technology products I use seem to have three elements.
1. It allows me to gather information and read it with a minimum of fuss.
2. It acts as a tool to untangle and marshal my thoughts.
3. It provides another way to express myself.
By these three criteria the AJAX home page Netvibes does the trick for me. Netvibes is a module-based home page. You can route RSS feeds and email through it. Others have created modules based on Netvibes’ API, such as the Weather Channel module you can edit with your zip code. Essentially, it lets you create a command panel for your online world. Start up your browser and there it all is before you.
Among the detailed elements I like is a rollover function. Pass your cursor over a post in your feed reader and the first paragraph is visible. Something I first believed to be a flaw—the fact that sometimes feeds don’t seem to function—I now believe is actually not a flaw but the revelation of malfunctioning feeds, feeds that might be hidden in another reader. I’ve edited the feeds I subscribed to slightly based on these revelations.
If you’re new to social media and would like a relatively low-frustration way to subscribe to feeds and keep your daily information in one tidy application, you could do worse than Netvibes.