Widgets go mainstream2007-08-01
There was little agreement when, at the New Communications Forum in February, I declared 2007 "the year of the widget" (although it was covered in a few places, like here and here). Bryan Person figured I might be on to something when he reported on the first conference dedicated to widgets, WidgetCon, held last month in New York.
But surfing through TV channels last night, I saw the definitive proof that widgets have arrived.
Burned out from staring at the computer monitor all day, I took a half hour to kick back on the couch and relax. Nothing I usually like to watch was on, so I settled for Discovery Channel's recurring event, Shark Week. I sat up when I saw a crawl on the bottom of the screen letting viewers know they could get the Shark Week widget.
The widget includes three shark-related headlines (updated to stay current), links to a couple Shark Week online features ("Ask a Conservationist" and a feature that lets you assemble your own shark documentary, along the lines of the misguided Chevy Tahoe experiment but without the risk), a link to the Shark Week site, and a link that lets you add the widget to your own blog or website.
The widget is huge, as widgets go, expanding to fill whatever space is available, which may discourage some shark fantatics from adding it to their sites. Still, a Technorati search revealed 423 blogs specifically about sharks. I'd be willing to bet the widget has found its way onto some of those sites, among others. In any case, it's a sign -- to me, at least -- that widgets can be a relatively cheap way to get your content out onto the edge where your target audiences will be likely to see it.
Here's the widget (I got it to fit in a narrow width by putting it in a one-cell table):