Mash-ups & customisation – not just the American dream

Its telling when a blog on fashion would feature a fab little snippet about iGoogle customisation and Google teaming up with top artists & designers from around the world. Admittedly, it is a blog from New Yorker Magazine, but surely indicative of how the desire for customisation has become the interweb’s interaction du jour.

My favourite quote is from NY designer Mark Ecko,

“The ability to design apps yourself, that’s what the Internet is about. That’s the American Dream, God Bless America!”

Good on you, Mark, for going all in with iGoogle. Strictly speaking, you are not designing apps with iGoogle, you’re customising your user experience of an mash-up with themes, and widgets. iGoogle have copied Yahoo! (years old) and given customisation the street-cred, sex appeal of “art & design”.

You still need to be a bit of a nerd to design real apps, but iGoogle, Yahoo, Twitter, all let you customise your user experience in the look and feel. iGoogle & Yahoo are examples of the information mash-ups – you can choose what you want to display on your page, like sport, weather, maps, webmail & other fun stuff. Its what a portal looks and behaves like when its taken a course of steroids.

Mash-ups are the ultimate way of getting information from incredibly different sources to be on the same page and in some cases, interact on a web page. The simpler the interface and greater the users ability to customise the page, the more code and development has gone on to get it there.

Corporate intranets are perfect for using this idea of every user doing their own mash-up of their most used links, their most important news feeds etc.

I like customisation – its one of those things where it makes you feel more in charge of your own internet experience. My iGoogle page has the Jeff Koons theme which is suitably insane, the weather, to do list, news feeds and maps.

I mentioned Flock in a previous blog. It takes the idea of information mash-ups & customisation that iGoogle & Yahoo! have applied to a portal-like home, and applies it to a browser, only instead of regular news, you can have your Facebook, Twitter, Flickr accounts open and logged in so all your social networking sites integrated into your browsing experience. The Flock sidebars and top media feeds keep you tuned into everything social as you continue to browse the web or check your RSS feeds in the side bar, look at the Media Streams in the top frame, and the general web content you really logged on for in the main browser window.

Try out some customisation for yourself, because sooner rather than later, almost everything you’ll be doing on a computer will through a browser window.