Xconomy Adds Marginize Widget for Social Conversations; Check In for a Chance to Win a Free Event Ticket

11/23/10Follow @wroush

There’s a new way to share and discuss your favorite Xconomy articles with your friends on a variety of social-media channels: Marginize.

If you’re reading this article on the Xconomy website, you’ll see the new Marginize tab on the far right edge of your browser window. Click on this tab and the Marginize bar will slide out, showing recent Twitter posts mentioning this article. You’ll then be able to “check in” to this page, much as you would using a location-based service like Foursquare or Facebook Places, and you can add to the conversation directly from the widget’s “React” box. Your comment will also flow back into your Twitter stream, your Facebook profile, or your Google Buzz stream.

And if you do any of those things in the next two days, you’ll not only earn an “Xplorer” badge recognizing your contribution to the Xconomy community, but you’ll automatically be entered in a drawing to win a ticket to an upcoming Xconomy event in Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, or Seattle. (Read on for the contest details.)

Xconomy is excited about Marginize because the technology creates a new ecosystem of user-controlled social spaces right here on our existing pages. In the process, it reunifies conversations that are currently fragmented across multiple social-media channels. We know that many of you talk about Xconomy’s articles on Twitter and Facebook—as we do—and now, for the first time, many of those conversations are visible right alongside the original content, where they can beget even more discussion.

“From the very beginning, what I wanted to do was create a parallel Web that belongs to users,” says Ziad Sultan, the founder and CEO of Marginize, a Boston-based startup that emerged from the spring 2010 session of the TechStars venture incubator program. “The first incarnation of the Web was the publisher pushing content out to individual users. The second incarnation was the social Web. The third wave should be a space on the page itself that belongs to the users.”

The venture-backed startup rolled out its basic technology in June, but until recently, its system depended on a set of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer plug-ins and bookmarklets that users had to install manually. Xconomy is one of 10 online publications and blogs where the new Web-only version of the Marginize bar—which is called the “publisher widget” and works without any plug-ins or extensions on the user side—is making its official debut today.

The other participating publications are Boston.com, Mixergy, OnStartups, and VentureFizz. You’ll also find the new publisher widget at the TechStars home page and at the personal blogs of Marginize investors David Cohen, Fred Destin, and Dharmesh Shah, as well as Foundry Group managing director and TechStars co-organizer Brad Feld. Eventually, Marginize plans to make the widget available to all Web publishers.

We’ve been following Marginize for a while: We first covered the company after TechStars’ June Demo Night, and then invited Sultan to join our XSITE Xpo lightning-presentation contest in June, where he won handily in the information-technology track. Greg profiled the company in August after it raised a $650,000 round of funding from Atlas Venture, Longworth Venture Partners (where Sultan is an entrepreneur-in-residence), eonBusiness, SOS Ventures, and a number of individual investors.

“The browser extension, which has been our core product so far, has been used on 150,000 different sites, which shows that users are taking it with them all over the place,” says Sultan. “The new launch is a different product. It’s a couple of lines of code that do the job of the browser add-on for you by calling our servers.”

In addition to showing the most recent social-media comments—which are linked to each page’s unique URL, and are therefore different for every page—Marginize includes a check-in capability, which introduces an element of game dynamics to the service. Except that Sultan says he doesn’t really think of Marginize as a game. “We’re trying to introduce an element of loyalty,” he says. “If you check into a site every day, the site could say ‘We appreciate it, and we’re going to give you a badge of recognition and we’re going to give you a free ticket to something.’”

And in fact, that’s exactly what Xconomy is doing this week. For the next two days—through midnight Eastern time on Wednesday, November 24—everyone who checks in or leaves a comment on an Xconomy page using Marginize on will be entered in a drawing to win a ticket to one of four  Xconomy events across our national network. We’ll be giving away tickets to our Seattle event “Biotech’s Back in Seattle” (November 29), our San Francisco event “Michael Moritz Unplugged” (November 30), our Boston event “5×5: Five Cities, Five Big Tech Ideas” (December 8), and our San Diego event “The Fight Against Diabesity” (January 27).

So please dive in and use the “React” box in the Marginize widget to leave your thoughts about this article or any other page on Xconomy. Have fun, and let us know what you think of the new tool. We’ll see the lucky drawing winners at our events in Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle!

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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