Personalisation 2.0

I’ve managed to get myself involved in a long-term government website project, with very grand ambitions for personalisation. Registered users will be able to ‘save stories’ to a personalised area; request notification when an article changes; etc etc. All sounds great in principle.

Yet each time I look at the personalisation options, I can’t help feeling it’s the old way of doing things. Another website to register for; another page demanding to be my default hompage; another password to remember; another place I have to remember to visit.

I can’t help reaching the conclusion that ‘personalisation’ is a concept whose time has passed. And in truth, despite all the promises, it never truly happened in the first place.

Personalisation, for me, is the ability to get the information I want, in the place I want. And in the 2.0 world, that place is my RSS consumption tool. I’m currently reading 78 different RSS feeds, from 78 different websites. It is my personal selection of what I consider important – from everywhere. And given the simplicity of the RSS format, there are countless different methods and tools for consuming that information – a web service like Bloglines, a personalised homepage, a desktop tool, a plugin to my browser or email client, an email service. I can choose the one which suits me personally.

I was told yesterday that RSS feeds of content from this big government website are not in scope. The important word I wish to add is – ‘yet’. 🙂 With RSS becoming omnipresent, not least given its status within Windows Vista (if that ever arrives), I’m worried that our efforts to build a personalised area will be wasted.