I got involved with Netvibes a long time ago, first as a user and then briefly when I helped them out with some dodgy English translations. That’s how I came to be invited to set up a Netvibes Universe before the beta was opened to the public.
If you haven’t used or come across Netvibes, you’ve been seriously missing out on a major productivity improver – it’s essentially an Ajaxified tabbed start page which lets you embed feeds, calendars, video and searches into one place. What’s more, the recent opening up of the universal widget API now means that developers with little more than XHTML skills can create widgets that do pretty much anything – you could have (and at some point I’m going to build) a search box for your collections, for example. There are vast quantities of widgets available.
Netvibes have recently announced the concept of the Netvibes Universe – a place where institutions, groups or societies can set up a page with a specific focus, embedding feeds and so on that are specific to that particular field of interest. Once you’ve created a Netvibes account you can add Universes to your page. It’s all a bit difficult to explain but should make sense once you’re there…
The National Museum of Science and Industry Netvibes Universe can be seen at www.netvibes.com/nmsi – I’m still adding content and playing with what we can do with this space but I think it’s an interesting slant on using content which is about but not necessarily generated by a particular institution.
It’ll be interesting to hear what you think.