Although I might not call it the Year of the Widget, like GigaOm, 2007 was definitely the year when Internet junkies seemed to finally reach consensus on a word that was as alienating to non-geeks as “wiki.” With Internet publishers yearning for more power with less knowledge of what they were doing, the concept of portable code became more and more attractive to less and less sophisticated publishers. You can probably trace it back as far as the first WYSIWYG editors and then onto the various publishing platforms that have made the idea of publishing content less frightening to people who don’t know what “a href” means but 2007 was probably the first year where consumers felt comfortable being the mules for their favorite services or destinations.
While blogs can definitely account for what drives a lot of widgets, it was really the social networks that took the concept from being a fringe technology to a ubiquitous presence on cites like MySpace. Of course, widgets could also be blamed for the many annoyances of MySpace that are driving more and more users to the cleaner Facebook, where widgets remarkably become “applications.” The movement continues to expand and suddenly Google jumps in with OpenSocial and suddenly the entire social networking world can add widgets with a few clicks. No more embedding code or giving third parties your login information. Widgets are now only a click away.
Oh right, and then the advertisers caught on. Now this seemingly altruistic sharing of development resources could be funded by the beloved brands that ship shoes across the country for us to try on and send back and the ones that sell us leftovers that people didn’t want the first time they were marketed to them. Yes, why just share when you can sell other people’s products for free.
Ok, maybe advertisers haven’t quite figured this out yet.