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AjaxWorld - Widgets are here

NEW YORK. Everyone wants Widgets (right?) but what are widgets? And more importantly how can you build them easily?

That information is something I was hoping to get from a session at AjaxWorld called, "The Social Aggregator - Widgets Reshape the Social Web". It was supposed to be delivered by Clearspring founder Hooman Radfar

but apparently he wasn't available so Justin Thorp developer community manager at Clearspring took his place.

Thorp had a few very interesting observations that I generally speaking agree with :

"It's not about your website," Thorp said. "I  don't go there to appreciate your layout, I go because of your content."

Very true and also very disheartening in many ways isn't it? We spend time and effort perfecting our website layouts but outside of our own bubble does anyone care about it -- beyond the content?

What is a widget other than a buzzword? Widgets are mini web apps placed in side other web apps. Widget is a category rather than a specific technology.

 
Widgets are also mainstream now. According to Comscore data cited by Thorp 81 percent of US web users saw a widget in November of
2007.

The real key in Thorp's view is that widgets act as social aggregators enabling user to more easily select, view and share content across platforms.  There are some issues though, among them is the fact that different aggregation tools and sites (iGoogle, Facebook and PageFlakes among them) use differing standards to implementing widgets - which might require developers to have multiple widgets (one for each aggregation platform).

That's where Clearspring (and its competitors like WidgetBox) come in. Clearspring offers the promise of a write once run anywhere widget platform. So instead of having to write different widgets for different sites you  just do it
once and get one click viral distribution.

Sounds neat doesn't it?

There are some issue though among them is the question of how to monetize widgets. Another is how do you measure the success of a widget and how do define success for a widget in the first place.

It seems to me though that if you think of widgets as a vehicle to help drive traffic (and build your brand) to your site's content - then  you're not going to go too far wrong.

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