Billy O'Reilly?

This is brilliant.


A few of you might have picked up that the project that I hinted at a while back involves a new paradigm shift in content delivery called "widgets". For those of you who don't know what "widgets" are, the simple explanation is that they are small windows that sit on a page and display content from another location.

The longer explanation is that widgets can be extensions of existing business models, sites or ideas. They can be whole business models or sites in and of themselves and they can also be the entire reason that a site exists. YouTube was built on the success of it's video player "widget" and it's ability to be pasted, without restriction, around the web. YouTube would hardly be who they are today if they had limited all viewing of their content to visitors of - there are dozens of sites that did that earlier and better than they did when they started.

In short, YouTube built a 1.65 BILLION dollar business because they allowed the sharing of their content on other sites through the use of a widget.

Widgets can obviously be built by the site owner to extend a business. They can also be built by a third party trying to make a buck by cleverly extending someone else's business. With widgets, imagination is the only limitation to what can be created if you have free reign and content to share.

Most widgets that you will find are likely going to be parasites, built to siphon traffic from a much larger host, like MySpace or Blogger. These web based parasites, similar to parasites in life, can be good or bad for you, assisting you in useful ways like the bacteria that help you digest your food or feeding off you at your expense like the flu or e-coli.

It's interesting that in nature, almost all living creatures need parasites present in order to be healthy. What is more interesting is that the arrival of "web 2.0" has caused websites to become living, breathing beings that are beginning to emulate life in almost every way, including the support for symbiotic systems of parasites and viral pathways. Trying to remove or hinder viral web content or "parasites" on the web will likely result in the same kind of reaction that treating viruses and parasites in real life does, occasionally killing or injuring the host during the process of treatment.

Personally, I'd like to think that this evolution of the web is a good thing and that widgets are the best example of how we interact with the new web. Mainly because they allow users to take what they want, put it where they want and customize individual web experiences in ways that might just make the old web portals just a bit afraid of what's coming next.

- Don

If you look on the right side of this blog, you will see a few widgets. A clock, and RSS reader in which I've placed my Digg stream, this blog, my Myspace blog and the top 100 google videos feed amongst other things (which may have changed by the time you read this - buyer beware).