2007 Year of the Widget – Newsweek

While Time focuses on people creating content in a very personal way, Newsweek focuses on people distributing content in a very personalized way.

Sean Stroupe has a fairly typical MySpace page in that it’s fairly atypical. His profile is tricked out with a song that plays whenever his page is reloaded, two slideshows from recent parties, a couple of YouTube videos that caught his fancy and an audio message from his mother, posted with just a twinge of irony. “You want to make it as interesting as possible. Or as fun,” he says of customizing one’s profile. Millions of MySpace members dress up their pages with videos, music, photos and more. And the technology that makes it all possible is so easy to use that, like Stroupe, many MySpacers didn’t even know they were using it. But each movable part of Stroupe’s profile is there thanks to a widget. Get used to that word.

If you sit in front of a computer at work, chances are there are certain Web sites that you monitor throughout the day, every day—to check e-mail, weather, stock portfolios or sports stats. But, thanks to widgets, taking multiple steps to track down headlines in one place and then check your e-mail in another may seem woefully outdated this time next year. These mini-applications—also called “gadgets”—are simple bits of code, easily dragged onto a desktop or pasted into a personal page, where they are constantly updated with whatever information you want. “It’s the exact opposite of what the Web used to be,” explains Om Malik, a tech journalist and founding editor of gigaom.com. Last month Malik and Niall Kennedy, another tech blogger, organized and hosted Widgets Live—an entire sold-out conference devoted to the topic (in, where else?, San Francisco). “Widgets,” he says, “bring the Web to you.” Think of it as tech jewelry—bling for your blog; ice for your desktop.

As much as I hate autoplay on MySpace, I love widgets. In the spirit of atomizing the Web for mashability, here’s a widget of my blog to place on your site. Use it to spice up your blog, profile, pornsite, whatever.

(Via Steve Rubel.)

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