18 – Widgets, Widgetbox

If you’re in Blogger, MySpace, Ning, or any of a myriad of other social networking sites, you can customize your profile with a variety of widgets. Widgets generally look like little rectangles, sit in a sidebar, and provide content from other web locations. For example, you could get a widget that displays the front page of various newspapers from different countries. Or you could have a widget that allows you to chat with your readers. You could get a widget that connects to your del.icio.us account and shows new things added to it, or updates on your Twitter account. You can get widgets that display photos from flickr or videos from YouTube.

I think this relates deeply with libraries, because as more libraries create online presences, they’ll be looking for ways to bring all their online resources together. Widgets (along with RSS feeds and blogs) could help to bring a lot of the library’s online information together. There are even ways that libraries can create their own widget for their users to put on their own page. Imagine giving your users the power to search your library’s catalog from their own web page.

Not all widgets will work with every blog or profile you have created. WordPress has only a few widgets available through their site. Blogger allows you to modify the code of the blog, so you can add the code for a widget the same way you add a link in you Blogroll.


Widget Providers

  1. Widgipedia (http://www.widgipedia.com/) – Many different widgets, plus the ability to make your own.
  2. Widgetbox (http://www.widgetbox.com/) – This site has widgets to add to your blog, with many different themes.
  3. Yahoo Widgets (http://widgets.yahoo.com/) – for your desktop.
  4. Google Gadgets (http://desktop.google.com/plugins/) – Google calls them ‘gadgets.’ You can use them to customize your Google homepage.
  5. In Facebook (http://www.facebook.com), you can add widgets to your profile page, only they’re called “applications.”
  6. ClustrMap (http://clustrmaps.com/) – just one widget, but it keeps track of traffic to your blog – can be great visual for libraries or librarians to track where their readers are coming from. You can see one in action at the California School Library Association’s 2.0 site (http://schoollibrarylearning2.blogspot.com/).
  7. There are many sites and software companies that offer widget versions of their software for you to put on your blog or web page, like MeeboMe (http://www.meebome.com/).

Also, look at Conduit (http://www.conduit.com/), which is a site that provides custom made toolbars (which are like widgets, only flatter and part of your browser).


Widgets through WordPress

You can add widgets to your WordPress blog through a very simple interface.

  1. Go to your WordPress Dashboard.
  2. Click on Presentation, and select Widgets.
  3. If your theme supports widgets, you’ll be able to add some. There are only a handful available.
  4. Add a del.icio.us widget to your sidebar by dragging and dropping it in the sidebar list.
  5. One del.icio.us is in your sidebar list, click the “configure” icon next to it. Input a title for the widget (something like “My Del.icio.us” or something), your del.icio.us username, and the number of links you would like displayed. You can even limit to certain tags.
  6. Save Changes.
  7. View your blog.


Widget Social Networking Sites

If you have a Blogger blog, or you want to modify your MySpace profile with widgets, then you have to copy and paste code into the proper places, or you have to go to a site like Widgetbox (http://www.widgetbox.com/) or yourminis (http://www.yourminis.com/).

If you set up a profile in either of these sites, you can add widgets to your other sites. Either one will also allow you to turn some of your other sites into widgets – your blog, for example can be widgetized to be put on another site.

If you’ve found yourself using one social networking site above all others (Facebook seems to be greatly suited for all-encompassing use, but I’ll have to look more into how Widgets function on Facebook…), then you can put widgets of your other social networking things on it, and share all your content with your readers at a single point.


Start a Widgetbox

  1. Go to Widgetbox (http://www.widgetbox.com/).
  2. Click on ‘Register’ and fill out the form that pops up.
  3. When you’re signed up, browse through the lists of available widgets, or search for widgets using keywords.
  4. Here are some widgets you might be interested in:
    1. del.icio.us Linkroll (http://www.widgetbox.com/widget/delicious-linkroll)
    2. Myflickr (http://www.widgetbox.com/widget/myflickr)
    3. bittybrowser (http://www.widgetbox.com/widget/bitty)
  5. Each widget is different, and asks for different levels of customization.
  6. You can save your widgets to your profile without adding them to a blog.
  7. To add a widget to your blog, you have several options.
    1. You can register your blog with Widgetbox, and use a drag-and-drop method to place widgets where you want them in the sidebar, or you can generate code and manually place the code into your sidebar by going into your blog’s template.
    2. This will not work in WordPress, as far as I know.
    3. I know Blogger works – try out your other sites to see if Widgetbox will work with them.


Things to do

  1. In your blog, add a widget from whichever of the above sites you chose.
  2. Write a blog post about why you chose one of the above sites over the other.
  3. Add all sites in this section to your del.icio.us list.
  4. Turn your blog into a widget, and put it on one of your other sites.

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