I have an iGoogle page with a number (25 at the moment) of selected RSS feeds in boxes (but no hamster gadget). Several of these are news feeds (general news, NY Times, BBC, Al Jazeera), some are tech (slashdot...), others are just interesting stuff (metafilter...). I guess this is customization (as opposed to personalization) and it works for me.
I used to have Google News open more or less permanently in a tab, but since their new look this summer, it has become less than useful for me and I don't think I've looked at it more than twice since they changed it (once was just now to see if it had become any better). I suspect this was personalization. (Well and twittization with the "popular" cruft and adization with the "spotlight" cruft.) To echo that New Yorker cartoon - "I say it's spinach and I say to hell with it."