I’m always a sucker for a Web gadget and Blinkx, the audio and video search site, has a neat one:
The above is a “wall” which previews the audio and video results of searching for “Zune” at Blinkx. They encourage web site owners to embed such walls on their sites and the wall is resizeable and updates continuously. I’m not sure how Blinkx makes enough money to support this, but it’s certainly interesting.
This seems to be yet another example of the rapidly growing arena of Web “widgets” which a variety of publishers are providing for various reasons of their own. I previously mentioned the Google gadgets which fall into the same category.
Google has always had a number of Gadgets available to spiff up your Google HomePage or Desktop, but they are now making them available to website owners to dress up their pages:
Google Gadgets are miniature-sized objects that offer cool and dynamic content that can be placed on any page on the web. A directory of “Google Gadgets for your webpage” is now available for webpage owners everywhere to browse and select gadgets for their own pages, at http://www.google.com/ig/directory?synd=open.
“Now anyone can have a great-looking website with automatically updating content,” said Adam Sah, Google Gadgets Architect. “By making Google Gadgets available for you to add to your webpage, we’re working to connect developers with enthusiastic consumers and to make information universally accessible and useful to the individual user.”
With almost no effort and at no cost, webpage owners can add complex, dynamically updating content to their own websites using Google Gadgets. Because there is such an enormous variety of Google Gadgets to choose from, webmasters also have a great deal of freedom to select only the gadgets that will best complement their own page. There are games, news clips, weather reports, maps, and more.
There are over 1200 of the Gadgets (most provided by 3rd parties) and I suspect the biggest problem is figuring out which ones to choose. Below are a few that amused me, but I do have to note that loading speed will vary since they are hosted on the 3rd party websites. You may have to refresh the page a couple of times to see all three Gadgets that I have embedded. Also, they seemed to interact oddly with my stylesheet and I wasn’t able to control the heights of the windows as you can see. (Update: that problem now seems to be fixed.)
Is it nostalgia for the 90′s or am I caught in a time warp? Google has resuscitated the “build yourself a free home page service” concept with a spiffy AJAX Page Creator and mercifully without the annoying ads that were the hallmark of such services in the past. Chris Sherman has the details at SearchEngineWatch:
Google Page Creator is a web based application that uses a basic what-you-see is what-you-get style of interface, designed to allow anyone to create and publish web pages, regardless of skill or knowledge level.
Google Page Creator is a web-based application that runs on any computer or operating system. To use it, you must have a Google account and a Gmail address. Pages that you create are stored on Google servers using a URL convention of gmailname.googlepages.com.
Each user is provided with 100 megabytes of free storage space, and while there is a limit on the amount of bandwidth a site is allowed, Rosenstein says he doubts most people will ever reach the limit. The limit is primarily in place to foil the efforts of spammers, he said.
There are few restrictions on the type of content Google will allow users to publish, though Rosenstein said there won’t be any mechanisms for ecommerce or interactivity.
Pages hosted on Google Pages are ordinary web pages, and will be included in Google’s (and presumably other search engines) web index, though they won’t be given any special treatment in ranking.
Despite their best intentions, I think they are going to have a problem with various forms of abuse. However, a bigger question is, why? Google already has the free Blogger service for would-be webloggers, so the suspicion is that it’s market positioning against the wildly popular MySpace. If so, they are going to need more than a few generalized web site templates to play the interactive user community game.
As for the other players, Yahoo and Lycos still have those golden oldies, GeoCities and Tripod, complete with the annoying ads. The real question is if or how the big names are planning to compete with MySpace.