For those of you who need more information widgets in your life, Netvibes is adding widget recommendations to its homepage service. It just started rolling this feature out today, and all Netvibes users should see it within the next two or three days. It looks at all of the information widgets on all the pages and tabs in your account, compares that to other members with overlapping taste, and suggests content they have that you don’t.
When users click on the “add content” button on the top left, a “Recommended” option will appear below the widget search box. Clicking on that will generate 12 new widget recommendations across nine categories of interest: news, sports, business, technology, entertainment, shopping, lifestyle, games, and travel. Netvibes is calling this new widget recommendation and distribution feature Talk To Me.
When I tried it, most of the recommendations were for news, since the way I use Netvibes is to scan dozens of blogs and news feeds on a single page. The recommendations, at least for me, were a bit too predictable: WSJ blogs, the Financial Times, The LA Times, CBS News. (Click above for a larger image). These are all things I could have found myself. But the recommendations are suppose dto get better over time, learning from what you add and what you reject.
Netvibes is in the widget business, so it needs to encourage more consumption of widgets. It will also be showing targeted sponsored widgets in the same window, marked accordingly, and it gets paid every time someone installs those widgets on a cost-per-install basis.
I personally have moved on from widgets to more linear streams of data as my information consumption habit of choice, but a lot of people still like widgets (see, iGoogle). Most widgets are really just a different way to package streams of data such as news or Twitter feeds. On Netvibes, you arrange them in boxes on your page, and can organize multiple pages in tabs, and even go beyond that. But at a certain point you stop adding new widgets just like you stop adding new feeds to your RSS reader because you don’t know what else to add or it simply becomes overwhelming. A good recommendation system could help you discover new widgets, but what is equally important is a way to clean up the widgets you added long ago but never bother to look at. Recommending what to get rid of is just as important as recommending what to add. But that is not part of the system yet.