Sunday, July 02, 2006

Mash it and glu it...more fun than Girl Guides

I did not enjoy sewing the pack's patchwork quilt in my previous life as a Girl Guide. It was inevitably dragged out when it rained or the pack leader just ran out of inspiration. Now there is a type of patchworking that seems a lot more fun.

Look on the sidebar of many blogs these days and it's not just "my profile" and "last posts". There are data harvested from many different sources, all linking "live" to other sources and changing as that source changes. I'm not just talking RSS feeds here.

There is the "what I'm currently consuming" link to display what is playing on iTunes on the user's PC. There is the "books in my personal library" link to Libary Thing. There's the "search my site with google" search box. There's the "Weather for my city" box. What's going on here?

They are mashups. Take content from one site, refilter it a bit or a lot, combine it with content from another site, squish 'em all together and you got youself a mashup. The content is obtained via the site's public interface or API.

To see how far you can go, check out the Mashup Dashboard at Programmable Web (Thanks CM for the pointer). Users submit their latest mashup and give a bit of background about how they done it good

When I visited the site, the second vaguely librariany site I browsed was the..Similarity Web . At the site, Similar Product Visualisation with AWS , one can search Amazon's stock and then see a display via flash of similar items, going back two degrees. Book covers of similar items are arrayed like playing cards around the central item. Item details show in the right hand column when the cover is moused over. Not sure whether the link will stay, but here's one I did for Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. Press the "Visualize Web" button to see the cards being dealt out. (Be afraid OPAC, be very afraid...)

I'd love to learn about using mashups in a library context. Well, now I can learn by doing.... but just don't have the time. Library vendor, Talis is running a competition called
Mashing up the library , announced in their Shared Innovation blog. Entries close 18 August 2006. Or if one felt a bit more generalist, one could enter google's new competition to create a gadget for google desktop. Entries close July 31st. Or why not create the uber-library-google-desktop-gadget and blitz both competitions?

A simple mashup site that allows users to have all their, Flickr, blogger etc items in one place, but doesn't then rearrange them in mind-boggling ways, is suprglu. Worth checking out. Thanks CW for the pointer.

No comments: