The above slide is from a session I did with David Wilcox in the UK on social media in January. I wish at the time I had Steve Bridger's excellent analysis and roundup of using widgets or charity badges for fundraising or advocacy, focusing on examples from the UK and beyond. Well done Steve!
Steve points out a new widget in the UK called Carebadges and notes it aspires to be the yellow bracelet campaign of the web. I like the analogy. He also writes about several other widget examples, but I won't spoil them for you - go read it.
Steve also points to an article from Dion Hinchcliffe called "Tracking the DIY Phenomenon" which explains perhaps why widgets have caught on. Hinchcliffe uses the analogy of Home Depot - that widgets have enabled users to create the DIY web, using these "off the shelf" tools to customize web content. He points out the concerns:
So while it's clear that there's a lot of value to end-users to repurpose the valuable functionality and information from elsewhere on the Web for their own needs, what does this confer to the Web sites that offer them? Doesn't making it possible for users to "peel off" the best parts of a site and stick them on their own ruin the monetization model that powers so much of the Web? I'm talking about page views and the resulting advertising revenue.
Interestingly, despite these concerns and others (like protection of IP displayed on someone else's site) I'm seeing Internet startups and successful online properties both take a careful look at "widgitization" and other forms of openness, like APIs. The value proposition of chunking up and modularizing content and services into bite-sized reusable pieces is becoming increasingly clear.
Here Hincliffe talks a lot about the power of the network effect as it applies to web content:
You move beyond the single Web site model and turn the entire Web into a content distribution system. Certainly, the rise of RSS and syndication proved the power of this model: the best content would rise to the top of the ecosystem it became part of us, and while the syndication ecosystem is now very large, it it's no match for the power and reach of the entire Internet.
He offers some points to consider when embracing the model of letting users innovate using your content and services in a widget form elsewhere on the Web, theoretically letting it be used in hundreds or even thousands of creative news ways.