Widgets go mainstream

Posted on August 1, 2007 9:48 am by | Widgets

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):

08/01/07 | 2 Comments | Widgets go mainstream

 

Comments

  • 1.I still believe your prediction was right. However, the fact that it is also the year of the Social Networks is overshadowing I am afraid (lol).

    Kami Huyse | August 2007

  • 2.Shel, I agree. Widgets add richness to our online experience. If we go back to Evans and Wurster's book 'Blown to Bits', they talk about the significance of richness. I have argued that one of the reasons Facebook is so popular is that its plugins offer added richness and a greater ability for people to expose their values in a range of forms (including their taste in music, videos, groups, Twitter comments etc).

    Widgets have a long way to go especially in their ability to mashup content from a number of sources.

    In PR they are a tool and a worry. Widgets will make organisations both more transparent (e.g.compare and contrast an organisation's claims with other realities) and make Internet Agency more pervasive.

    David Phillips | August 2007 | UK

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