Skip to Content

Personalized, Real-Time Web Content

A new version of Netvibes focuses on real-time data from around the Internet.
December 1, 2009

Choosing a home page is still an important step for many Web users. Nowadays, many home pages are custom-built, featuring headlines syndicated from favorite blogs and news sites and widgets that display the latest weather and sports scores, social network updates, and more.

Wasabi mosaic: A feed can be consolidated into a collection of images, as seen here.

Netvibes, a startup based Paris, France, that lets users build custom home pages, is testing a service that pulls together real-time data from Twitter and Facebook, as well as frequently updated blogs and news sites, on personalized home pages. Called Wasabi, the new service is built on technology that helps keep up with an avalanche of real-time information from across the Web, says Freddy Mini, the company’s CEO.

Competing services, including iGoogle, Bloglines, and Pageflakes, take slightly different approaches to building personalized home pages, or “dashboards.” Netvibes’s decision to focus on real-time Web content reflects the growing importance of sites like Twitter and Facebook. Currently, Netvibes has 3.5 million active users. Wasabi is open to 20,000 beta users, according to Mini, and about the same number are on the waiting list.

Once you activate Wasabi, you can choose a “smart reader” view in the upper-right corner of the screen. This view consolidates previously separate RSS boxes into a stream of intermingled headlines. Twitter and Facebook updates and other information, such as the current weather and e-mails, are shown in the same feed. You can highlight particular feeds via a navigator on the left of the screen. And it’s possible to view a “mosaic” of any images associated with the items in a feed.

Wasabi can keep track of the most frequently updated services and update a user’s dashboard almost instantly, says Mini. Netvibes’s engineers built back-end software that crawls through feeds, analyzing the frequency of posts. “Our crawlers come back to you and drop content faster if you update quickly,” says Mini.

While Wasabi is an improvement over the standard Netvibes offering, it’s only going to appeal to a certain type of Web user, says Robert Scoble, a social media expert at the hosting company Rackspace and a prominent blogger and Twitter user. According to Scoble, power users generally opt for toggling between Twitter and Facebook for most of their updates, with the occasional foray to Google News.

Linear look: Wasabi offers a stream of real-time information from services such as Twitter.

Scoble adds that power users increasingly use their phones to access real-time information. Apps for the weather, the New York Times, CNN, Twitter, and Facebook serve the same purpose as widgets collected on one webpage, he says.

Netvibes offers a mobile version of Wasabi that loads more quickly than the standard one. But the company hasn’t yet offered an application that runs directly on a phone.

Mini says his company is working on software tools to help users cope with information overload. Mini also notes that Netvibes has developed a recommendation system that it uses to suggest new content. “We are, in fact, preparing to add some intelligence,” he says, although he didn’t provide a timeline.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This new data poisoning tool lets artists fight back against generative AI

The tool, called Nightshade, messes up training data in ways that could cause serious damage to image-generating AI models. 

Rogue superintelligence and merging with machines: Inside the mind of OpenAI’s chief scientist

An exclusive conversation with Ilya Sutskever on his fears for the future of AI and why they’ve made him change the focus of his life’s work.

The Biggest Questions: What is death?

New neuroscience is challenging our understanding of the dying process—bringing opportunities for the living.

Driving companywide efficiencies with AI

Advanced AI and ML capabilities revolutionize how administrative and operations tasks are done.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.