Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wrestling with Midgets...oops, I mean Widgets...

I'm a big believer in the web trending towards disaggregation.

I have this vision of the web as a gigantic supermarket with all of these different items on the shelf. And we, as consumers, get to stroll up and down the aisles picking and choosing what we want our dinner plate to look like.

But, picture life before supermarkets - before America operated as a surplus economy. We ate what we killed or what we were given. Same goes with how we used to consume content...

In the mid-late 90's it was all about the "portal" and the aggregation of as much content as possible. We would go to the portal that had the most content (e.g. Yahoo!) because chances are we'd find something we liked there.

Then we slowly evolved towards the aggregation, indexing and searching of content via sites like Google, Digg, etc.

But now we're at the point where people are savvy and willing enough to take charge of their experience on the web and decide what their "dinner plate" will look like. And if the web is the super market, then the widgets are the groceries.

For those that don't know, a widget is basically a small software utility that resides within another web site...think of it like having a site within a site. Some widgets play music, others allow visitors to communicate with one another, etc.

For entrepreneurs of today, widgets will play an increasingly important role in how we build our respective businesses. The game has changed from, "How do we get the community to come to us?" into, "How can we go to where the communities already are?".

The most popular application of widgets has obviously been on sites like Facebook and MySpace where widget developers have been able to build monstrous followings in very short periods of time - I've seen some Facebook widgets explode from 0 to 5 million registered users in a few short weeks. That's unprecedented in the "destination" web, but when you go to where the audiences already are, you really begin to leverage the physics of the "widgetized web".

So how does this apply to me and TickerHound?

Well, since we have such a belief in the web becoming more decentralized, we want to capitalize on that trend and position ourselves to take advantage of it. So we're building a suite of widgets for TickerHound that other financial publishers, content providers and communities can use to enhance their sites and make their lives easier.

We've already kicked off development on a couple of the widgets but now that we're approaching the more complex stuff, we've been wrestling with some tough questions.

I'll be sharing some of those issues here and on the TickerHound blog in the coming weeks. I hope to get some great feedback from all of you!

blog comments powered by Disqus