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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Make mine a mashup!

I just listened to a great podcast from the Sirsi Dynix Institute (a great technology updating tool, by the way) by Darlene Fichter on mashups (check out the PDF of resources and listen to the podcast yourself).

What are mashups, you may ask? Mashups are combinations of data from two (or more) different sources to create a new resource or service. For instance, the BBC News Map combines an RSS feed of stories featured on the BBC with Google Maps. The result is a visual representation of where in the UK recent news stories have occurred.

Libraries are trying to use mashups to enhance services to their users. Darlene notes some interesting examples in her PDF file and presentation. One that I found useful is Libraries 411, which identifies your location from your IP address and then shows the locations of nearby public libraries. Another mashup by Edward Vielmetti combines Amazon book covers with links from the Ann Arbor District Library's catalog to create the Wall of Books.

I have been messing around with Yahoo Pipes to make some mashups. It's a very nice click and drag way to visually construct a mashup. A very simple one I have working so far is this one, which combines recent news stories from the Association Press, the BBC, and World Press Review, and sorts them by title. Is this useful? Well, maybe. But it's a start. I'll let you know as my mashup experiments continue.