Posted by Deliverator on August 18th, 2005
I am writing this in response to the torrent of im and email traffic my prior post elicited.
People have been trying to do “this” right for ages. Microsoft took a great stab at it with a MS Research application called Sideshow that was only supposed to be used internally, but got leaked. Prior to this, MS’s only real foray into push technology has been Active Desktop and Channels. Apple flirted with the concept early on in its history with Desk Accessories and has jumped headfirst into the fray with Dashboard. Along the way, “this” concept has been attempted by a number of smaller players. “This” concept is somewhat amorphic. The way I like to frame the concept in my mind is a lightweight framework for creating tiny, highly personalized applications, whose purpose is to display rapidly changing data culled primarily from outside data sources. A lot of the data sources used by the widgets that I have played with are publicly available, but are inconveniently presented/formatted and/or require an interactive “pull” from the user. Widgets flip this process upside down and pushes the desired content (and only the content) directly to the user’s desktop in a compact form.
We live in an age where there is a glut of information available and where we are being continually bombarded by information that we don’t want to see (ads). The problem then becomes how to aggregate all this information, filter it and present just the information you want without making your head hurt. Widgets are one piece of the puzzle. RSS and Atom are two other significant pieces. I just wish someone would give us the box, so we knew what this whole damn puzzle is supposed to look like…