I Am Alpha, which is their version of Yahoo! Widgets or Microsoft Gadgets. Google has modules and all the smaller players have similar widget featuresets - PageFlakes calls them "flakes" and Goowy calls them minis. All of these things are basically little web apps that can be integrated into your desktop or a webpage (e.g. a personalized homepage such as live.com or PageFlakes). Here's how AOL defines its modules:AOL has just released a new site called
"A module is a "distinct piece of content or functionality." That's a fancy way of saying it's a very small web page that can be embedded easily in another web page."
Screenshot from the intro video
As SiliconBeat noted, this is "another departure from AOL's infamous "walled garden'' days." Although I would add out that none of these widget or module platforms is yet interoperable. Especially not the big companies, although of the smaller players PageFlakes and Netvibes seem very keen on developing an open API platform.
I am Alpha is focused on the AIM product right now, although I imagine this will extend out to AOL's portal products in due course:
"I Am Alpha is a site for developers and other curious folks to play around with the underlying technology behind a whole new crop of cool AIM products."
I have to say this announcement by AOL looks promising. They're talking of developing a microformat called AOL ModuleT: A Module Transport Microformat Profile. The documentation for the modules is well done too and all in all it's a promising addition to the Web's growing widget ecosystem.