Widgets and Community Ecosystems

One of the projects I was working on recently used widgets to display constantly changing time sensitive and site specific information across a hierarchical family of enterprise web sites. Each site’s widget could be configured to only display information relevant to the audience of that site making it a powerful tool to build connection with the users of the site. 

Widgets are small, generally single, purpose applications which make distribution of digital content to multiple locations easy. See Robin Good’s post for a great overview. 

Because of the distribution of digital content they are garneting a lot of discussion in VC circles. (see Brad Feld and Simeon Simeonov – read the comments as well) 

While the VC’s are worried about business models there are other issues. Slow load times and most importantly they leave nothing for search engines to index nor do they create a link rich environment that some information demands. (I had a great link on this but can’t find it now – will up date when I do). 

Widgets can be more that tools to distribute content – they can facilitate the development and communication between the parties in a community. No organization or individual exists as an Island (no matter what the song says) and leveraging the associations strengthens all parties in an ecology by combining overlapping audiences into a larger one that understands is common interests.   

Widgets can help because they allows for easy placement on web sites or pages, what’s needed are mechanism to add content to the common pool, describe it and select what gets displayed where. The final piece is that links and text get replicated as part of the page – creating a link rich area to draw others into the ecology and a light weight synchronization method to keep them up to date.

Widgets and ecologies were meant for each other -because they make it easy to aggregate audience for all parties while keeping you identity.