Monday, September 01, 2008

What’s in Your Widget?

We have seen the emergence of the mighty widget - the ‘live’ jacket that with a single click, opens up the book for the buyer to briefly evaluate and qualify for purchase. Whether its called Search Inside, Browse Inside, View Inside, Look Inside, they all work fundamentally the same and offer that enriched customer experience. They bring much of that bookstore ‘touch, smell and feel’ to the online world.

Today’s widgets offer limited pages views, text search, linking, table of contents, customisable ‘buy now’ resolution and the ability to copy and distribute the widget. So is that the end of the story or the beginning of a new one?

Today we can see the availability of more supplemental information that could be used by retailers, librarians, consumers etc. So can the widget be extended from being content into a container that holds content, context and even rights? Imagine clicking on a jacket and having the option to hear the author via a podcast or see them via a video, read authoritative review, link to other titles. The interesting thing again is that widgets may be dispersed to the four corners of the Internet but they are rendered dynamically from a single source. That model enables the publisher to update information as it changes and maintain its currency over its life cycle.

Imagine a world where all we pass between us is a widget, a jacket image, a persistent resolvable URL. It makes you think about the waste, the duplication and the lack of consistency that happens today.

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