The future's not digital, it's widgetal

This thought’s been bubbling for a while, so I though it about time to commit it to a full on post…

Just being in the digital space isn’t enough.  It’s not new, not fancy, not unexpected.  All of your competitors are there.  You need to do more for people…

Because what we do is connect companies to people.  Always have, always will. 

But forming a connection with people via the internet is not about placing ads near where they go.  It’s about doing something for them.

Entertain, Educate, Connect, or just be Useful, as talked about here.

So if it’s about what you bring to the party, you need some sort of delivery mechanism for that. 

A widget.


(image from Open Gardens)

I think a a widget in a very broad context is whatever you create to connect you to people… something that takes full advantage of the internet and all its glory.

So, arguably, it’s the clip on youtube entertains you with a faked 1960s news report for the new Watchmen movie… 


…or it’s the Reverbnation ‘fan collector’ box, which brings bands and fans closer together, by embedding the widget across the web…

<embed src=”;backgroundcolor=EEEEEE&amp;font_color=000000&amp;posted_by=artist_325429″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” height=”100″ width=”434″/>



It’s the Yell socialiser, which is really handy to find a place to meet or things to do with your friends around a given location…


…or it’s the Sage ‘train your business brain’ games that teaches you how to improve your business performance. 


Whatever it is, it’s doing something for people, using the full and mighty power of the internet.

As Seth Godin’s recent post says, things created specifically for the internet work well on on the internet… and how things that aren’t, don’t. 

And yet, the internet is full of passive, ignorable banners & skys… old style advertising, not reinvented for the internet, but just taking the principle of the poster and the press ad, and reproducing them by the billions online.  And unsurprisingly, they are largely blanked out by people.

As Graeme says here, why bother calling them ‘ClickThru’ rates of 0.9%; they’re more like ‘IgnoreThru’ rates of 99.1%

If you’re going to spend money advertising online, in order to connect people to companies in the most powerful way possible, then it’s not just good enough to be digital… you’ve got to be widgetal.