A couple more widget notes

Some remaindered notes:

Trivial mashups

I recently did a survey to see what relevant mashups I could find as examples and I was surprised to find that there are not that many serious ones. Especially if you want to go beyond the chewn out examples of Flickr, last.fm and Google Maps, there simply is not that much there.

This is indicative of how much work remains to be done in creating data sources and adding semantics to the web. All the things we have made thusfar are mere proofs of concept compared to the potential that is still there.

One of the reasons why this may be the case is that it is hard to build a decent business on top of a mashups either because the license of the source is not permissive enough or because building on top of somebody else’s web app is a shaky foundation1.

Channels

In the widget project we did, the channel was set namely: widgets. This both makes sense and doesn’t. Widgets are a general enough target for displaced information but for some types of information they are not the ideal channel.

Calendar information should be in your calendar whether that be Outlook, iCal or Google Calendar. It’s nice to have it in a widget but that’s not the most relevant place. Similarly for videos you should have a podcast link with all the video formats embedded as enclosures. The video widget we developed is finally live (embedded underneath) and displays the latest videos quite nicely, but it would be nicer still to integrate this with iTunes and Boxee and be able to watch it on your television.

So a more wholistic approach is necessary that recognizes the values and affordances of various forms of data and provides a consistent brand across channels. Widgets already say that your website is irrelevant, now take it one step further.

Also a small test of the open syndication facility of iGoogle. A bit hidden away but works nicely.

  1. Just look at Twitter which had its problems but also is breaking new ground in this field. ↩

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