Widget Madness: Add Bling to Your Blog

Posted on January 18, 2007

The New York Times has an article about the emergence of widgets. It certainly isn't the first article about widgets but it provides a good introduction and a great title -- "Some Bling for Your Blog" -- which is really what widgets provide for blogs. Some bloggers, like Pastor Hyatt, may already have a widget addiction.

Pastor Hyatt says, "You start small, and it's kind of like an addiction. TypePad has a whole section of widgets, and they're adding more all the time," he continued, referring to a popular blog-hosting service.

Some of the widgets mentioned in the Times article include Blufr, StreamPad, ChipIn, MyBlogLog, LibraryThing, Mini-Clock, Plazes.com and ClustrMaps. Widgets have been around for quite a while. It is just a catchier name for what used to be called blog add-ons. Before that the snippets of code that you could paste on your homepage was often simply called "free stuff" for your website. There has already been discussion earlier this year that 2007 could be the year of the widget. There was even a conference about the widget economy last November called WidgetsLive -- it was produced by Niall Kennedy and Om Malik.

Widgets have been growing over the past two or three years. They have followed the growth of blogging and social networking. Widget companies need people with profiles and blogs to embed their snippets of code in order to thrive. Widgets make it easy for bloggers and social network users to add photos, videos, music selections, weather forecasts, clocks, quizzes, maps, friends, polls, chat, emoticons, stock charts, sports scores, video games and other content to your blog. There are also widgets for your desktop but it is the blog widgets that seem to be generating the recent excitement. Yahoo has Yahoo Widgets; Google offers Google Gadgets and Microsoft has Microsoft Gadgets. Wordpress offers sidebar widgets for bloggers using its blog publishing service. Typepad also has a widget gallery.

Widget Buzzkill: Before you get too excited about widgets Valleywag has listed five reasons why the "level of enthusiasm for these modest add-ons -- services such as Blinkyou and Coolmyspacecomments which can provide photo galleries or other baubles to otherwise basic web pages -- is entirely out of proportion to their importance."