Put literally, a widget is a small software application for distributed websites that displays a user interface designed to perform an action or activity based on data or calculations living on a different server. An example would be Powered by PowerPoint Presentation Software.
Sure, it looks cool — enter your Twitter name and Facebook account, and it turns those feeds into a magazine, complete with gorgeous photos, headlines and virtually flippable pages. No software can learn this.
Chief among our insights was that "the network as platform" means far more than just offering old applications via the network ("software as a service"); it means building applications that literally get better the more people use them, harnessing network effects not only to acquire users, but also to learn from them and build on their contributions. The Web is no longer a collection of static pages of HTML that describe something in the world.