Oh to have been a fly on the wall at the just-wrapped Mashup Camp – a fly safely high up on the wall, because a) I’m no programmer and would likely be in the way, and b) its ‘geek dating’ program – a frenetic dance of speed demos and the “law of two feet” – sounds downright dangerous.
But I would have loved to buzz with the buzz, because it’s clear that the proliferation of web applications and reusable APIs is causing an explosion of tinkering, playing, discovering. As Web 2.0 guru Dion Hinchcliffe puts it, The theory is that you can be much more valuable to the rest of the world if your software can be reused in unintended ways. In other words, don’t just provide a fully created end-product for one pre-intended use. Encourage others to use the good pieces of what you provide in new and innovative ways. And thus the torrent of new services cobbled together with bits of preexisting web services — some of which is tracked by Mashup Feed.
What can nontechnical endusers can expect from all this mashing? More customized information and the power that goes with that, as data feeds get mixed for real-time information on weather, parking, airfare, restaurants, skiing, and general calamity.
A glance at David Schorr’s Weather Bonk confirms, at once, that the Mission is the only somewhat warm place in SF, and the GG Bridge is flowing pretty well at the moment:
Looking for more monetizable information? Flyspy is planning to bring to you a 30-day overview of airfares:
But no matter how clever or useful the mashup, it’s only as good as its datafeeds. Another mashup service, Cheap Gas, looks great until you notice that the gas prices you’re being quoted, contributed by ‘anonymous’ (maybe Eddy from Texaco down the street), dated from last summer:
Such flashy inaccuracy is bound to make people who are in the business of reliable information — for example, librarians — nervous. Many mashups are anarchic sandboxes, and who knows what use your data will be put to or what company it will be keeping or to what ends it will be mashed (that’s the point).
As Tom Owad demonstrated a little while ago , pinpointing ‘subversive’ (yet acquisitive) persons is as easy as mashing up Amazon’s Wishlists with Yahoo People Search with Google Maps. Here’s a map of readers hoping someone buys them a shiny new copy of Orwell’s 1984:
And that’s all *legal* — just imagine what our government is up to.
Nevertheless, the rise of APIs may save libraries from the rusty chains of closed-box ILS packages , and allow them to dream up a range of new community-oriented services. Certainly we should be glad that programmers plugged into the potential of libraries, such as the Superpatron, were doing the monster mashup this week.
Scanning mashupfeed‘s indexes… here are some mashups that strike me as library-intriguing, with pasted descriptive blurbs (ie, I didn’t write ’em, because I didn’t try ’em all):
- Blosh Blosh finds blogs mentioning locations and displays them on a map.
- Boston RSS Alley This map displays the locations of some of the companies and bloggers actively working with RSS in the Boston area.
- Find the Landmark Test your knowledge of US landmarks with interactive, timer-based Google Maps game.
- Flyr Search Flickr for geotagged photos and then plot them on a Google Map. Nice nested map-within-a-map.
- GeoWorldNews The latest worldwide stories from the Washington Post plotted on a Google Maps satellite image.
- Healthia Use the Healthia doctor search to find doctors the United States. 800,000 doctors listed.
- History Timeline Wiki A history plus geography wiki that allows readers to contribute items of historical interest and plot their locations. Initial dataset is US battles.
- Libraries411 Find public libraries in the US and Canada. Data for more than 20,000 libraries available.
- Maplandia Comprehensive searchable gazeteer based on Google Maps. Referenc guide has full world coverage.
- Placeopedia Geographically place Wikipedia articles on top of Google maps:
- Solar Eclipses This Google Map shows the path of solar eclipses across Earth’s surface.
- World Airport and Airspace Database Database of over 11,000 airfields and airports across the world.
- World Volcano Browser Displays volcanos of the world on a Google Map. Data from the Smithsonian Institution, Global Vulcanism Project
- Albumart.org Uses the Amazon API and an Ajax-style UI to retrieve CD/DVD covers from the Amazon catalog.
- O’Reilly Book Page Mashup of Backpack and Amazon.com APIs to generate Backpack pages with Amazon.com book data.
- flickr graph Social network visualization using Flickr API:
- Flickr Related Tag Browser Search and visualization tool that lets you surf Flickr’s tag space. Flickr tags are keywords used to classify images. Related tags shown based on clustered usage analysis.
- Flickrscape Enter a word and watch the flickr photo stream. Click to interrupt stream and try another word.
- geobloggers Google Maps + Flickr photos. It also consumes del.icio.us for geotagged bookmarks and the Upcoming.org for US events, which it then geocodes.
- Cloudalicious This nice graphing application shows you the count of del.icio.us tags applied to a given URL over time. Here’s the Romantic Audience Project so graphed:
- Delancey This nice del.icio.us enhancement allows you to see which of your del.icio.us bookmarks are used most frequently.
- thumblicious Use thumblicious to quickly preview the most popular sites bookmarked on del.icio.us via thumbnail screenshots.
- Copyscape A website plagiarism search tool that uses the Google Search API.
- DoubleTrust Shows the best search results from both Google and Yahoo in a new way. Also allows user to alter his trust in either engine to bais combined rankings.
- QTSaver Uses Google and Yahoo APIs to extract microcontent from multiple sites and allows you to rearrange the excerpts.
- SpellWeb Compares relative popularity of spellings or concepts based on web frequency. An experiment in sidesifting the Web for useful patterns of information:
You get the idea… you probably get a thousand ideas. That’s the problem with mashups — too many ideas, too many variously commercial or incomplete datastreams, too much sheer buzz. But quickly, perhaps within a fly’s lifespan, your library may truly catch on.