Widgets: Friend or Foe?

The New York Times devoted an article to widgets yesterday - you know the kind that are typically found on blog sidebars. It was only in the last two years that widgets have started to gain a strong momentum. Bloggers thrive on them and now there's an overpriced conference for widgets as well as many widget-focused startups.

The point of a widget is generally to convey a small bit of information to the user in a creative way, adding to the overall character of the blog at hand. However, often times blog authors overburden their blogs with widgets and draw attention away from their content. I tend to concur with what Valleywag had to say on this issue - that widgets detract from a blog. The occasional one or two widgets are more than acceptable but after that it can wreak havoc.

For me one of the biggest problems with widgets is the fact that they rely on remote servers and thus increase loading times. You may have noticed that my Twitter badge/widget is down at the moment. That's because it was adding at least 5 seconds to the loading time of this blog. I'll put it back up very soon after I make my own using Twitter's RSS feed and a cached RSS parser.

Now to the point of this post, how do you feel about widgets? Do you like them, loathe them? Which ones do you use, if any?