25 Aug Would you like your music (and data) mashed?
From musical combinations to new web applications, mashups are creating interesting new sounds, sites, and uses. In music, mashups are created by combining the soundtracks of one song with the words of another, generating an interesting new sound (see Mashuptown).
On the web, mashups are created through the combination of existing data sources like maps, weather, classified listings, or other content linked with other data elements to create something totally new. Mashups, an integral part of Web 2.0, are generating buzz, interest, and potential new business opportunities.
One of the more popular categories of mashups combines maps from Google, Yahoo! Maps, Mapquest, Microsoft Virtual Earth, or other mapping services with geo-coded data on traffic, ski-hill conditions, real estate, crime statistics, auction locations, golf courses, or some other topographical point of interest. To see how Google Maps are being used, you need look no further than Google Map Mania, a blog tracking all of the ways in which Google maps are being put to use in mashups. You can also find out more about the Google maps at its website.
Patricia Seybold of the Seybold Group has an excellent review of mashups that attributes their growth to the “emergence of open and human-readable application interfaces (APIs), using protocols like eXtensible Mark Up Language (XML), widespread syndication of information through Really Simple Syndication (RSS), and Internet social etiquette promoting “opening up” applications and information for re-use and re-mixing.” In addition to these factors, the increased processing speed of today’s computers coupled with increased broadband speed is contributing to the expansion of mashups.
There have been a couple of Mashup Camps that were designed to create a network of ideas and to generate new mashups. The first, held in February 2006, attracted more than 200 people, followed by a second in July with over 500 people, and a third in the planning stages. Meanwhile, Microsoft has gotten into the game with its Mix 06 conference held in March that included breakout sessions available online, including “Building Location Centric Services with Virtual Earth.”
In his review of Mashups, freelance writer Duane Merrill puts them in the following four “buckets”: mapping, video and photo, search and shopping, and news. He describes mashups as being composed of three parties – the content providers, the mashup site where they are combined, and the browser where the mashup is displayed. The content providers offer their content for free, or it is “scraped” from the site for combination with other data.
John Musser at Programmableweb is tracking mash-ups, and he had over 900 indexed when this article was written – double the total of less than five months ago. Interestingly, of the 900-plus mash-ups, two-thirds were classified as involving maps. He also tracks application programming interfaces (APIs) that are used in creating mashups and has over 250 listed on his site. The number one API – no surprise given the popularity of mapping mashups – is Google Maps, followed by Flickr, Amazon, 411sync, and Dapper.
What are some examples of mashups? Here are some that you might find interesting:
• AuctionMapper – Maps out eBay auctions by zipcode.
• Bubblr – A mashup of Flickr photos with a tool to add bubbles and create comic strips.
• ChicagoCrime – Maps out Chicago Police Department crime statistics.
• Diggdot – Mash-up of Digg, Deli.cio.us, and Slashdot for the tech savvy.
• Geocoder.US – Find the latitude and longitude of any U.S. address.
• Gmap Pedometer – Tracking distances traveled when walking or running.
• HousingMaps – Maps out Craigslist rental listings.
• Jobster – Matches job type with locations of jobs.
• Loopnet – Mapping out commercial real estate.
• Magg – Online video aggregator combining videos from multiple sites.
• Motormapusa.com – Maps out eBay Auto Listings.
• Podbop – Musical event data by location with downloadable mp3 music of bands playing in that locale.
• Tubehotels – Maps out London hotels based on the tube location.
• UFO Maps – Maps out UFO sighting locations.
• Weatherbonk – Maps and weather content.
• Zillow – Maps and real estate appraisal information.
The commercialization of mashups is in an early stage with mashup developers experimenting with ways to monetize their time and energy. The options appear to be either subscription- or advertising-supported. Given that the data providers often set limitations on the use of their data, the business models are still somewhat hazy.
Within the enterprise, we’ve seen an array of mashups and will see even more, according to a recent InfoWorld article – Enterprise Mashups. The article argues that the key to success is for information technology to gain control of the policies associated with the types of data allowable for mashups, to properly license any external data sources, and to select the proper tools for creating mashups.
Whether for money, fun, or enterprise productivity, keep your eyes on mashups because they offer an interesting new wrinkle to support marketing, customer service, and business operations.
Other Paul Gibler articles:
• Paul Gibler: Cutting through the blog fog
• Paul Gibler: No RSS feed? You’re fired!
• Paul Gibler: Social computing in the Web 2.0 era
You can hear him on September 22nd when he’ll be leading a workshop on e-Marketing 2.0, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Lubar School of Business Center for Technology Innovation in Milwaukee.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed here.