By Elise Ackerman- Posted: 05/27/2009
Google offered a grab bag of goodies to bloggers Wednesday, making it easy for people with limited technical skills to add everything from maps to conversations to their Web sites.
"We were inspired by how popular it was to embed YouTube videos," said DeWitt Clinton, a Google employee who led the technical effort to develop the features.
Copies of snippets of the software code required to add the new features, which are called Google Web Elements, can be found at www.google.com/webelements.
While it has always been possible to put elements like a Google calendar, custom search or spreadsheet on a blog, it often required some knowledge of Web programming languages. Clinton said Google's goal was to help "make the Web a little better" by improving the usability of Web sites.
"Anytime you can add interactive elements to your blog or Web site, it is a good thing," said
Denise Wakeman, an online marketing expert and author of BizTipsBlog.com. Wakeman said she is most excited about the opportunity to easily give her readers a way of searching her blog for older posts. She said an option to embed YouTube News videos may be helpful for bloggers who are focused on politics or current affairs.
Elisa Camahort Page, cofounder of Blogher, a network for women bloggers, said the new features duplicate widgets available on other blogging platforms like TypePad or WordPress, that Google's effort to connect the elements to each other could win over Web users. "They've been doing a lot to make these applications cross-functional," she said.
Page said she was most interested in the conversation feature, which allows people to embed real-time conversations into their sites that might be occurring elsewhere on the Web.
The idea is similar to Twitter, the microblogging site that exploded in popularity this spring. The new element is built on Google Friend Connect, whose ultimate goal is to let people interact anywhere online, no matter what application they are using. People have the option of hosting a "global" conversation that takes place across the Internet or restricting the chitchat to their own site.
"It is just satisfying one more yen we have for connecting with each other," Page said.