Start Pages are personalised homepages that you can fill with news feeds and a whole variety of ‘widgets’ – weather, youtube videos, sudoku puzzles etc. Start pages were initially private homepages but increasingly public facing pages are being offered (and created).
I’m looking at them in a bit more detail today as I’ve got to give an external talk on them next month and also pages are under development here by the Careers Service and the Spanish Department.
I’ve been using Netvibes for a while now and the other big players seem to be iGoogle, Pageflakes & Protopage. Here’s a comparison of the ‘top 5’ from a year ago, so well out-of-date in the emerging technologies world but a good starting point. Although we regularly use iGoogle for training sessions at the LSE it doesn’t currently seem to offer public pages which for me is its weakness. My other discovery this morning concerens OPML which is a format for transferring multiple feeds en masse. Most start pages offer an import OPML option but only Netvibes seems to offer an export – a useful backup strategy in the world of third party services that might not be around forever!
Here are a few examples to give you a flavour. They are all from Pageflakes & Netvibes as they both offer public directories. Pageflakes seem to have more and are easier to search.