Sometimes I think I know a lot. I can code like a champ and also know the difference between a Monet and a Manet. But on closer inspection, maybe I don't know very much at all. When it comes to fine wines, for instance, I can't tell the difference between Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape and Chateau-de-Cardboard, and if you asked me who played in the Super Bowl last year, I'd probably say the Dolphins. And lots of people at Google are like me: we know some things, and have some good ideas, but we certainly don't know everything or have all the good ideas.

So when we designed iGoogle, our personalized homepage, we baked that recognition right in to the product by developing the Google Gadgets API. Google Gadgets are applications that developers can create and anyone can embed into their iGoogle homepage or their own website. In the year and a half since we launched Google Gadgets, we've seen a lot of growth in this program. The developer community has created thousands of gadgets, and the top gadgets get tens of millions of pageviews per week. This is great for our developers, as iGoogle gives the gadgets broad distribution, and it's great for our iGoogle users, as they benefit from a richer variety of options for their personalized homepage. There have been some really interesting gadgets created, from to-do lists to Zelda, from a pair of eyes that follow your mouse around the screen to an entire customer relationship management (CRM) application.

We've been hearing from a lot of gadget developers that they'd like to spend more time developing if they could, and we've been thinking about ways to help them do that. To that end, we're happy to announce Google Gadget Ventures, a new pilot program that will help fund third-party gadget development and gadget-related businesses. We plan to offer two types of funding: $5,000 grants for gadget developers who want to invest time making their already successful gadget even better, and $100,000 seed investments for new gadget-related businesses. For now, applications are restricted to gadget developers who have more than 250,000 pageviews per week on their gadget.

Our hope with Google Gadget Ventures is to help create an ecosystem where developers can spend more time doing what they love -- building great gadgets. You'll find more details on how to apply on Tom's post on the Google Code Blog and the Google Gadget Ventures web page. I'm extremely excited to see what you all come up with!