Archive for October, 2010

Dumbing-down Mashups. A Good Thing?

I’ve been heads-down on some projects lately, and if I still didn’t manage to peek up and check some of my favorite sites, I might have missed this news about Dapper via ReadWriteWeb. <embarrassment>I had no idea Dapper had been acquired by Yahoo last week</embarrassment>

They were one of the original “do-it-yourself” API tools a few years back before switching their model to contextual advertising. I wasn’t thrilled to see the change in focus, but at least they kept Dapper up and running.

 Marshall Kirkpatrick has written an excellent article about discovering Dapper, and the effect it had on him. He barely mentions “mashups”, but you get a great sense of how empowering the technology was for him.

He also mentions NeedleBase in passing, a free hosted tool that I admit I haven’t used much. In practice, it sounds very similar to Connotate, a commercial mashup product whose “Intelligent Agents” learn what to scrape by example. Alas, NeedleBase is a product of ITA Software, a travel search/software firm that was acquired by Google back in July. The product is still available, but Google doesn’t exactly have a good track record in the mashup space.

I see a clear trend away from “mashups”, and towards “data harvesting”.  Marshall’s uses of Dapper are clearly in the “Harvest” category, and NeedleBase describes itself as “a revolutionary platform for acquiring, integrating, cleansing, analyzing and publishing data on the web”. Even venerable Kapow Technologies no longer mentions the word “mashup” on their homepage, but you can read plenty about acquiring data from the web.  

What does it mean? Marshall makes a good argument how about technology that is too innovative for the current marketplace often doesn’t gain the traction it needs to succeed. I think we are seeing a slight “dumbing down” of mashup technology/terminology to a few simple use cases that people can easily grasp. Once they understand how these tools can give them easy access to a wealth of new information, they will start combining the various pieces and “mashups” will finally gain broad acceptance as a solution paradigm.

But that’s just the path for the teeming masses. If you’re reading this, you’re probably ahead of the curve and looking beyond scraping to mashups’ more powerful capabilities. Most firms have barely (if that!) begun to exploit the potential of mashups, and I see that as a chance to gain a competitive advantage. You can wait until mashups are mainstream (again) or you can use this time to build an enterprise app store, create propreitary information streams, and make your IT department more productive. Will you wait until your peers seize this opportunity, or will you use this time to jump ahead of them?

  • Teleco.IO
    Teleco.IO offers an API for telecommunications services to help manage their industry. The API allows asset management and reporting, enabling providers to search, order, and provision their telecom assets throughout an entire data lifecycle across multiple networks. Currently in a private beta, interested parties can request API access from the Teleco.IO website. Date Updated: 2014-12-19 […]
  • Inquiry
    Open311 allows developers to create third-party apps to report and view citizen neighborhood issues such as potholes to graffiti and more using a city's 311 reporting system. Now on version 1, the RESTful Inquiry API is the tool used to query the 311 database. HTTP GET calls can be sent to the API to list […]
  • Clearent
    Clearent is an integration tool for eCommerce, combining sites, shopping carts, mobile interfaces, payment processing, and Point of Sale applications to create comprehensive payment-enabled eCommerce applications. The API is compatible with shopping carts such as ZenCart, OpenCart, OSCommerce, and custom user applications. Using the Clearent API, providers can process sales, authorizations, captures, refunds, and voids. […]
  • Google Enterprise License Manager
    Located within the Admin SDK, the Google Enterprise License Manager API enables enterprise developers to programmatically manage their licenses. The API can be used to revoke a license, return a specific user's licensee by inputted product SKU, create and assign licenses, list all licenses associated with a specific product, and reassign SKUs with licenses. The […]
  • FT Headline
    Financial Times is a business intelligence service that extracts vital information critical to business news. The FT Headline API enables developers to create a newsfeed of relevant real time business news for integration into 3rd party websites or applications. These headlines can be ported into existing CRM, newsletters, and information portals. Date Updated: 2014-12-16 Tags: […]
  • migme
    migme is a social media service that offers chat, microblogging, and entertainment integrations to increase monetization through marketing and user onboarding. The RESTful migme API allows access to it's 9 million user base, enabling programmatic social media functionality, such as the acquisition of comprehensive user profile information, and the ability to invite friends, make a […]
  • Yes or No
    The simple Yes or No API is made for automating boolean decision making within mobile environments. API calls will return a "Yes", "No" or "Maybe." Returns include fun links to comical Gifs, such as Hugh Laurie or Client Eastwood nodding in approval, or Jim from the Office excitedly mouthing "Yes!", or an uncomfortably slow camera […]
  • W3C Vibration
    The Vibration API is a simple browser-based device API documented by the W3C Device APIs Working Group. The Vibration API enables developers to trigger the vibration mechanism in a hosting device, such as a smartphone. The vibration length and pattern of the vibrations can be customized. The API offers simple tactile feedback, not fine-grained control. […]
  • W3C Battery Status
    The Battery Status API, documented by W3C, is a browser-based API that enables web developers to discover the battery life of a hosting device. This enables web application features to be dynamically catered to a device's battery status, improving power-efficiency and user experience. The API dependences include EcmaScript and WebIDL version 2. The Battery Status […]
  • DOJ Law Jobs
    The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Law Jobs API distributes available government legal job openings and vacancy announcements, sourced from the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management. This digital distribution channel exists to make job openings more transparent to the public. This API is also the main data source for the DOJ law jobs mobile […]