Until pretty recently, I associated the word "widget" with one of my favorite movies, the delightfully lowbrow '80s comedy classic Back to School, starring Rodney Dangerfield.
Rodney, aka Thornton Mellon, "the world's oldest living freshman," immediately spars with his business professor, the textbook stuffy Brit, who keeps trying to outline a fictional company for the purposes of the class lecture. Rodney won't let him, however, as he insists on having a real product to grasp. Tape recorders, perhaps? Nope, Rodney counters, the Japs (remember when movie actors talked about "the Japs" and no one blinked?) will kill you on production costs. How about a widget, the exasperated prof finally asks. What's a widget? asks Rodney. It's made up, says prof, it doesn't matter.
Rodney gets the last word in, of course, as he suggests that the hypothetical business be located in Fantasy Land.
And that's what the social networking-world — MySpace, Friendster, FaceBook and the like — is these days, isn't it? A fantasy land where kids hang out, make friends, create an electronic personal space, listen to music, and generally represent and market themselves. And now widgets — boxes that are inserted into social networking profiles or even blog pages that allow information from outside sites to be piped in — are the rage in helping to further define and enhance the social networking experience.
It's a natural fit for a company like MeeVee — a "web 2.0"-style site that seeks to be the television listings and information solution for TV maniacs across the e-land — to produce a widget that can quickly and easily be installed on social networking profiles, blogs, or any other content publishing platform.
They make it a pretty easy two-step process. After registering (it's possible that you don't even have to do this), I added a bunch of "interests" at the MeeVee site, mostly current TV shows that I'm keeping up with, like The Unit and The Amazing Race. You can also add things like people, keywords, or events. All of these interests are plugged into your widget as a way of representing what kinds of things represent you.
And the representative package, the widget itself, is really very slick. The widget presents itself as a TV screen, with the color and skin customizable. Clicking an up or down arrow within the widget allows people to scroll through all of the shows and interests you selected. Clicking the names of shows brings up programming information. Some shows have video clips associated with them that play a mini-commercial for the upcoming program.
The MeeVee site itself has a number of intriguing features, such as Internet TV Channels that allows you to plug directly into internet broadcasts from around the world.
It's interesting to think about the audience when talking about social networks. When you customize your profile with dynamic information (such as a widget), will it be interesting to the public — those friends and strangers browsing your profile — or will it be more interesting to you?
In the case of the MeeVee widget, it's a great way to send yourself personalized TV listings and related information with a slick format. I'm not sure if this information and functionality will be as relevant to "the public," but that's all part of the fun of the great social networking experiment we're seeing unfold.Powered by Sidelines