My current web obsession (and productivity drainer) is iGoogle. For those of you who don’t know what this is all about, this is Google giving you a free personalised search page, instead of the standard “no-frills” search page that you are normally confronted with when you go to Google. By using iGoogle (the Artist Formerly Known As Google IG), you can give yourself some spiffing artistic headers as well as install some productive – as well as some not so productive – widgets on the page (or as Google likes to call them, “modules”).
Now the conspiracy theorists in the world are speculating that iGoogle is the start of a Google social network, the beginnings of a rival to Facebook. But if so, I would say it’s very early days and Facebook needn’t worry too much. Right now, iGoogle is just a collection of amazing artwork and useful (and not so useful widgets, sorry, modules) that has found itself a very loyal following among Googlers.
Amazing artwork aside, why is iGoogle so popular? Well, let’s see. Do you have a blog? Yes? Well then why not make a widget with your constantly updating RSS feed so other people can have it on their iGoogle page? Such a simple idea but you’d be amazed at how many people have asked me for one for my own blog . You’re probably thinking it’s involves a lot of programming but nothing could be further from the truth. It only involves a few clicks and a few seconds. Just enter into your internet browser the following line (obviously removing ENTER YOUR BLOG FEED URL HERE with the actual URL of the blog feed).
http://fusion.google.com/add?source=atgs&moduleurl=ENTER YOUR BLOG FEED URL HERE
So for example, Make Use Of would be http://fusion.google.com/add?source=atgs&moduleurl=http://feeds.feedburner.com/Makeuseof
This would then take you to your personalised iGoogle page and the widget will appear. You can customize it by clicking on the downward arrow button at the top right and you can drag the box around the screen with your mouse if you want to reposition it.
So whenever somebody asks for your iGoogle module, just give them the URL above with your blog feed URL attached to the end – that’s it! Google does the rest.
Now if iGoogle ends up becoming your default browser homepage, you can have widgets that show your Gmail, your calendar, your RSS feeds, and much more. You can then create your own additional widgets such as to-do lists or framed photos. In other words, iGoogle can easily become your one-stop webpage and there’s no need to go anywhere else. I can easily imagine a future scenario whereupon Google scraps the plain default Google dot.com search page and automatically pushes everyone to their personalised iGoogle pages instead.
When you’ve got developers constantly pushing out new iGoogle applications all the time, it’s easy to see why people are comparing iGoogle to Facebook. The only good thing about iGoogle is that you don’t (as yet) have total idiots coming up and poking you. Or your enemies coming up and stabbing you.
Web Worker Daily published a list of some nice useful widgets that you might want to consider putting on your iGoogle page. I am using the Google Analytics one which is quite good. The iGoogle directory starts here and oh you might want to check out a feature Lifehacker did some time back called “Show Us Your iGoogle” where readers sent in screenshots of their iGoogle pages. It might give you some inspiration. Personally I am not sure what to put on my page yet. I am wracked with indecision!