Kiva has built a widget that lets Twitter users learn about and track Kiva loans all around the world.The recent radical redesign of the Twitter homepage integrated media like photos and video into the sidebar of every user's page, and today the company announced that it has partnered with an outside organization to launch the first widget that's usable - and sharable - from inside Twitter. Micro-lending group
In a post today on the company's blog, Twitter's Director of Social Innovation Claire Williams wrote, "our business development team made sure to integrate a few partners right from the start that inspire giving."
Who else is included right now? We don't know - but the potential to go beyond 140 characters and into the land of interactivity and programatic functionality inside the multi-media space on Twitter.com is substantial. People have long said that Twitter is a platform, but apps built off-site may have had a smaller impact on the large Twitter community than have, for example, the apps built on the Facebook platform and usable right on that site.
What apps are next in that sidebar? Let's guess. Casual games would work well and have long been expected to land in Twitter somehow. VOIP click to call could be cool. Live video broadcasting? There's as much potential as there are app companies that can work in a small portion of a web page. Hopefully that will prove wildly valuable to this first, social good-oriented, widget publisher.
Update: Twitter has been criticized for its needlessly closed approach to widgets in the sidebar. When the new version of Twitter was launched, long-time blogger Anil Dash wrote the following:
In its current implementation, Twitter has declared that media which is shown within the Twitter interface comes from selected partners. But actually, the technology to allow embedding of rich media from almost any site already exists, using a system called OEmbed. Geeky stuff, but it's made by nice people who are pretty smart, and it lets any site say, "Hey, if you want to put our thing in your thing, do it like this". It works. Lots of sites do it.
Nobody's getting rich off of it, but nobody's getting sued, and in between those two extremes lies most of what makes the web great.
Now that Twitter is talking-up its inclusion of widgets from organizations like Kiva, perhaps its a good time to revisit the question of standards and accessible platforms.