As of today, we all heard about Web 2.0. Many of us have an account in at least one of the well-known social networks like FaceBook, LinkedIn or actively use YouTube, MySpace, SecondLife, or any other similar N-Gen service.
However today, I want to insist on a simple yet effective way to really take advantage of all these brand new cool technologies. Something that everyone can use with minimal setup effort and benefit day after day without being one of these "nerds" spending more time as a virtual avatar that in the real world.
We all need and want to access news everyday. From radio newsflashes while in our car to TV news in the evening or newspapers while at home, we are all avid of news. The most active of us also consult some online news channels or blogs to get additional details or opinions about particular topics. And all these searches consume your time. Time being too precious to be wasted, let's see how to spare some.
As of today, I am confident at least 70% of you use Google as home page and therefore Google is the first page you see when opening your browser. Before going further, let me help those who use Internet Explorer 7 (IE7). If you use IE7, don't use Google as home page, and want to keep your current home page then simply go to "Tools ==> Internet Options" and add a new line after your home page. Type there http://www.google.com/ig. For everyone else, just replace www.google.com by http://www.google.com/ig.
Then go to http://www.google.com/ig. ig Stands for iGoogle and it will allow you to customize your own Google page with tons of things that interest you only. So first you need to create an account with Google. If you already have an account with Google because you use Gmail, Adsense, Google Analytics or whatever, then you do not need to create an account. Instead, simply use your existing login and password to log in.
Now you can make the news come to you automatically. You can transform your iGoogle page into something similar to the below screenshot by adding RSS flows and/or widgets.
What can you add to that page ?
Well you can add widgets (think virtual gadgets) that provide a permanent link to an online translation service or to the Wikipedia search engine. You can display the time in any part of the world (useful if you work in an international company). You can watch some shares value ... There are countless widgets available, just click on the "Add stuff" link on the top right of your screen.
And what about news or blogs ?
This is where is comes easy and powerful. On all of your favorite news websites or blogs, you will find a RSS icon similar to this one. Then if this is the kind of site you frequently visit, just click that icon. Upon clicking, Google will ask you if you want to add this page to your iGoogle page or to your reader. Select the iGoogle page. Repeat the same procedure for all interesting blog or website (and I hope you will add this blog as well).
That's it ! From now, you can decide to remove some widget or RSS flow. You can change how they are organized on your page using the good old simple drag-and-drop system. You can have some RSS displaying 3 headlines or more. It is up to you to decide and your home page will always provide you with news you are interested in. If that's now harnessing Web 2.0, then what is ?
If you look at my own home page as example, you will see that I use it to get general national news (La Libre), world-wide news (CNN), economical news (L'Echo, Trends), political news (some blogs), news from my online game(Star Wars Combine), news about IT or Telecom stuff (Datanews, Joel on Software, video games news), and then some widgets like I described earlier..
And you know the best ? It works. It is easy for me to read what I want when I have time, to add a new RSS flow or to remove something I never check; all this using some Web 2.0 technologies and Google.
I hope this small article will be useful for you. In any case, do not hesitate to post a small comment, a suggestion, a critic, or whatever.