Last week I was in Manchester at NW StartUp 2.0, co-presenting with Ivan Pope from Snipperoo whose company I have been tracking for sometime now. Ivan spoke about how he sees widgets changing the way we interact with the web and about how his new company Snipperoo has developed a new universal tool for managing widgets.
Well widgets are certainly getting the web spotlight right now, today the Wall Street Journal (subscription only) has a story about the growing popularity of widgets …” and recently Niall Kennedy and Om Malik co-produced Widgets Live! In addition SplashCast also make some very smart and interesting predictions for the future of widgets in 2007. There was one prediction that certainly pleased Ivan.
One thing to note, the idea of widgets is not new, they have simply been updated and re-marketed like so many other Web 2.0 ideas and technologies. For example during the Web 1.0 period, we had Microsoft’s desktop items using a precursor to RSS called CDF – Channel Definition Framework – to deliver information to small desktop applications. Even before that, Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 2001 talked about loosely coupled reusable software (intelligent agents) helping form part of the Semantic Web.
Widgets today are not really intelligent because most of the information in widgets is delivered one-way down to us as plain text or pictures. What is really needed to make widgets more useful is bi-directional communication such as the SSE initiative (Simple Sharing Extensions) from Microsoft i.e I receive data within a widget which I or another machine can change before it is (re)acted upon.
So widgets are another building block for the semantic web along with RDF, Microformats, Content Labels. etc.