Quick Recap of the whole Widgetlaboratory – Ning story

August 28th, 2008 by Avatar X Leave a reply »


First things first. i am covering this story with a double interest. i am interested in the news but i am also interested in clearing up a very fun and even amusing confusion some of our readers had with this story. some thought that widgets lab had something to do with Widgetlaboratory because of the very similar name. so, without further delay i assure you that Widgets Lab DO NOT have anything to do with Widgetlaboratory beyond the name similarities. we also want to remind anyone that Widgets Lab was started before WidgetLaboratory if any also had a doubt about that.

The Players

As with any conflict worth covering, there is always two sides to the story. at one side we have Widgetlaboratory. they were a Widget and Widget-app developer for the Ning Platform. they provided all kinds of widgets and widget-apps to Ning users. at the other side we got NIng. They are a social network platform and social networks ecosystem where anyone can easily create its own Social Network .

The Story

ACT 1:“Everyone want to root for the underdog”

It started with a bang and lots of appeal. so much that Techcrunch decided to give it a premium coverage treatment. i cannot blame them. the basis of the story was that a poor widget developer, in this case Widgetlaboratory  was being abused by Ning, who decided in a envious burst of irrational ire to shutdown said widget developer out of the blue and with that also bring down lots of widgets that died and went to widgets heaven. sure hits and comments would surely ensue, they did.

Ning Shuts Down Premium Developer WidgetLaboratory

ACT 2:”the David versus Goliath skit”

Then, just when you thought things will pass Widgetlaboratory decided to do something in retaliation to go Open Source, so the code they used to serve for Ning users would be able to live again and previous widgets used and Ning could resurrect. and if Ning didn`t liked the code being served by Widgetlaboratory. now they would be surely mad to have to deal with it without being able to do much against widgetlaboratory anymore.

WidgetLaboratory Strikes Back At Ning Where It Hurts

ACT 3: “The Wolf in Sheep clothes”

Finally. things cleared out and it resulted that the victim was no victim,. that the killer was no killer, and that all we had believed in was just a mirage that faded and revealed some very simple truths that would not make anyone excited at all.

Don’t Post The Evidence Unless It Supports Your Case

The Story Revisited

Just like when you watch a movie. seeing it again makes you look at it differently. and in a lot of cases you end up realizing that it was not a good movie at all.

So what happened in resume is this:

  • 1.-Widgetlaboratory breaks the terms and rules of Ning house
  • 2.-Ning asks widgetlaboratory to please knock it off
  • 3.-Widgetlaboratory ignores Ning
  • 3.-Ning yells at widgetlaboratory to please knock it off
  • 4.-Widgetlaboratory ignores Ning
  • 5.-Ning is not pleased and kicks out Widgetlaboratory out to the street, throws its things out too
  • 6.-Widgetlaboratory swears revenge and incites others living in Ning house to revolt
  • 7.-Ning puts up a message in the fridge  that says that if others copy Widgetlaboratory behavior they will be thrown out too and maybe without warning.
  • 8.-Everyone at Ning house wonders about if this is fair but decide to do nothing for the moment
  • 9.-Widgetlaboratory admits defeat and finally stops wandering ning house trying to get in
  • 10.-Ning tries to pretend nothing happened but shows signs of stress and getting old

*the analogy should only be used as guide of what happened, not a absolute truth of what happened*

The even shorter version

It looks like if you are a successful Widget developer that depends on a sole platform you don`t control as your way of living don`t assures you will be able to continue if the owner of the platform gets mad with you because you may have been breaking the terms of service in that platform.

What is next?

Ning will continue in its quest to thrive and offer social networks for anyone that want them. Widgetlaboratory will have to adjust and try to rethink what they want to do. this does serve as a very fine example that you must have a failsafe if you are a developer that depends on one single platform. it also shows that it is a good idea to develop for more than one platform. i would recommend them to simply have a look at OpenSocial. their knowledge on Social Networks should allow them to do good enough in that. Widgets and widget-apps will continue to be interesting market to be in and from what i have learned in the time i have been covering widgets. there is lot of room to grow and evolve yet.


  1. As with any interesting movie, be sure to not get up to leave the theater before the final credits roll. Often times you will find that commentators (even Mr. Arrington) do not have enough facts to know the “real” ending that is waiting for them.

    There is much to this story that was “NOT” released by WidgetLaboratory on purpose… and that information, and the outcome of this saga, will possibly change your conclusions and those of many others about NING, their management, and who was doing what to whom.

    Thank you for your continued interest and coverage of this story, as it effects everyone in the Social Network space.

  2. Avatar says:

    @Spencer Forman – CEO WidgetLaboratory:

    I know what you are talking about. i know more than what you think. but going out on a limb against Ning without solid proof is not of my personal interest.i also know how techcrunch does things. i am in partly mocking that a little if you can read between the lines. but that is the other thing. can i blame them for how they run their blog?. what interested me as i said is the very amusing confusion some had that this blog was part of widgetlaboratory. that had to be cleared out even if it was a very minor thing. i don`t have anything against you at all. i know how these things are. i hope to see you recovering soon and to be able to cover the widgets and widget-apps you get to produce later on. whenever you do get new news on those new widgets or the porting of the previous ning widgets elesewhere. feel confident to e-mail me. i will be happy to cover them.

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