Sleeping in on a lazy weekend morning, snuggling warmly in bed... eventually capricious_k
and I will reach for our smartphones and start roaming around the internet. It's the modern equivalent of reading the Sunday morning newspaper. After a little while I'll ask her, "So how's your internet today?"
It's a question that reflects that although she and I have similar tastes, our experience of the internet is somewhat different. Even though we're both avid Livejournal users, even our friends pages aren't 100% identical. She'll get all the latest news from Whedonesque
, and I'll read PvPOnline
's feed. We probably both start out by checking our email inboxes, but I think I'm more inclined to check Google News
as my second activity than she is. And even if she does check Google News, we've both personalized it so we're getting somewhat different news.
Despite the fact that the internet is a vast ocean of ever-evolving data, each of us experience that ocean in a different way, and the way we experience it is entirely different and intensely personal. If you picked two random internet users from around the globe, odds are extremely high that they have no favorite websites in common -- and if they did, they'd probably prioritize them differently. You say CNN.com
, I say BBC.co.uk
, although both are likely to display similar headlines.
One recent internet evolution that's helped shape this experience is the emergence of aggregators. You LJ friends page is an aggregator, a place that displays a personalized list of updates from all of your LJ friends. Google Reader
is a great place to bring a lot of informational feeds together for at-a-glance perusal. FriendFeed
is rapidly becoming one of my favorite internet destinations. (FriendFeed really warrents a separate post -- in short, please go use FriendFeed!)
Naturally, my favorite method of bringing my slice o' internet together in one place is iGoogle
, where I organize my internet life according to tabs, and each tab has a different priority. My 'Home' tab includes a smattering of news, a feed from Slashdot
, bookmarks of some of my favorite internet destinations, a Digg
gadget so I can see what's floating to the top of the internet's gestalt consciousness, my Gmail
inbox, etc. Then I've got another tab called 'News' which is a deeper dive into the world's best news agencies; one called 'Geek' which includes feeds from various video game and comic book websites; another called 'Tech' where I can scan headlines from places like TechCrunch
, Ars Technica
, and Techdirt
; and finally a 'Google' tab that gives me an at-a-glance look at news about Google including a Google News search on the word [ Google ], a few of Google's official blogs, a few blogs that comment specifically on Google such as Google Operating System
, and a couple of gadgets that bubble up what's popular on Google at the moment: Google Hot Trends
, Google Insights for Search
, and Google's What's Popular
On top of all that, I keep a few different tabs open on my browser all at once. The mix is different on my home computer and my work computer, but they have some overlap. Every time I fire my comptuter up and launch a browser I'm presented with these tabs, which are organized just the way I want them -- my home tabs are biased towards home entertainment (including one tab that shows my Xbox Live friends page so I can see what Xbox friends are online at the moment) and my work tabs are optimized for work tasks such as reading my work email inbox, checking my work calendar, and the tools I use to do my job.This same principle carries over to my iPhone, where I keep about 5 windows constantly open in the browser, the ones I'm most likely to be interested in while on-the-go (or at least too lazy to go look at my home computer while I'm vegging on the couch).
All in all, my little slice of the internet is a highly personalized and optimized experience, and I'm sure that's true for everyone else, too. Aggregating and sorting these slices is becoming an increasingly important part of interfacing with the web. The tool of tomorrow will probably be some sort of meta-smart-aggregator, that brings together larger and larger slices of your internet in one place and intelligently surfaces new content to you, all through an adaptable interface that dynamically adjusts to the best way for you to experience that content. I, for one, can't wait.
So... how's your internet today?