Friday, June 08, 2007

When windows met gadgets

The reality and the possibilities of the web application tools called ‘widgets’

Etymologically, widget is a blend of two words window and gadget, coined by George S Kaufman in his play Beggar on Horseback (1924).

Been to Google lately? Have you spotted the difference yet? First, Google has added an ‘i’ before its name… and second, it offers you a host of small apparatuses to be displayed in its erstwhile stark homepage to make your surfing experience much easier. These mini-applications that offer easy access to internet-based content and information are called “widget,” a portmanteau word combining the words, ‘window’ and ‘gadget.’ Does it make sense? If not, welcome to the world of everything-in-one.
Why is everyone going gaga over widgets? Because, it’s all about money! To begin with, it’s an advanced tool for advertisement. You no longer wait for the customer to hit your site and hope that he or she reads the ads. Instead, widget takes your offers directly to the customers. More of that later, first, let’s understand what actually the widget is!
Wikipedia has listed a host for meaning for widget in the context of computing:
1) Widget engine, such as Dashboard widgets for Apple’s Mac OS X v10.4, Windows Sidebar, or Yahoo! Widgets
2) GUI Widget, a component of a graphical user interface that the user interacts with
3) Web widget, a third party item that can be embedded in a web page
4) Mobile widget, a third party item that can be embedded in a 3G mobile phone
Simply put, widgets are the third party application displayed on a third party domain, either on the web or on your desktop.
Let’s see how it works. Suppose you are a news freak. On the web there are unlimited sites that offer round-the-clock news. But it’s highly time-consuming to jump from one site to another and keep a tab of all the news. Isn’t it possible to get everything that you want at one place? Yes, why not. You can get RSS feeds of the data you want. But if you have a widget it makes the matter simpler.
With the help of a widget you can get your desired information without even visiting the sites, the application will do that for you, only thing that you have to instruct it. The motto here is, as Yahoo would make you believe, save time, waste time, have fun (till we continue to do our business!). Check out the site to understand the possibilities of widgets.

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