My good friend Steve Makofsky (RSS) recently mentioned the announcement of the new Windows Vista Sidebar, for which you will be able to develop "gadgets", or mini-applications for the Windows Desktop. He writes, "Windows Sidebar will be available for developers 'around Beta 2', but in the mean time check out http://www.microsoftgadgets.com (it should be up today)." Since hearing about this project a few months ago, I've become increasingly convinced that the Windows sidebar should ship with at least two default gadgets, an analog clock and an RSS viewer that comes pre-loaded with an "Ego Search".

An "ego search" is an RSS subscription to a search for a specific string across a set of online resources such as the umpteen million blogs that MSN Search indexes every day. With an ego search, you are notified of all new resources containing the specified search string (your name) within minutes or hours of its appearance on the Internet.

Let that sink in. Omniscience is heavy.

For example, if you search for ["firstname lastname" contains:(rss OR xml OR rdf OR atom)"] using search.msn.com and scroll to the bottom of the search results page, you will find the familiar, orange RSS "chiclet". Mine points to http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=%22korby+parnell%22+contains%3a(rss+OR+xml+OR+rdf+OR+atom)&format=rss&FORM=RSRE. Upon "subscribing" to this RSS feed (by dragging the chiclet into an RSS reader, for instance), you will henceforth receive a notification whenever MSN adds a new item to the search results for the query.

Why do I propose that an "Ego Search" gadget be included in the Windows Sidebar, by default? Because it's the surest way to enliven non-technical Windows users to RSS. I can almost hear my dad say, 'You're telling me this Windows gadget thing knows when one of my friends blogs about me?" YES, within minutes!

For more information about developing gadgets for Windows Vista AND for the Web, which you can do today, see Steve's post, or visit http://microsoftgadgets.com/default.aspx.