I just returned from Mashup Camp, a Silicon Valley "unconference" that brought together mashup developers and API providers. I was happy for the chance to get the word out about Post Remix and some of the mashup-friendly data we have here at washingtonpost.com such as RSS feeds for every member of Congress.
There were plenty of interesting ideas, tips and demos. Here are some highlights:
Tantek Çelik led a discussion on microformats, simple ways to add metadata to HTML documents. For instance, calendar information can be expressed in a format called hCalendar, which just requires a couple of easy-to-add tags and attributes in your HTML. That's something we ought to do at washingtonpost.com.
Another microformat, which is particularly relevant in a news context, is hAtom. It's still being solidified as a proposal but, once it firms up, it'll be a way of coding normal Web pages so that Atom feed readers can interpret the page contents -- headline, content, summary, date, etc.
In a discussion of whether API providers (such as map API providers Google, Yahoo and Microsoft) should settle on a consistent documentation format, somebody asked a smart question: Shouldn't the providers instead focus on making the APIs consistent, so only a single set of documentation would be needed for all APIs? Already some developers have created higher-level APIs that "wrap" the various map APIs to provide a consistent interface and make it easy to switch between providers.
Although I doubt this consistency will happen, it's worth thinking about this problem in advance for any sort of new APIs. For example, if/when we release some sort of news API here at washingtonpost.com, we should try to mimic existing APIs as closely as possible, rather than reinventing the wheel.
TWOCrowds, one of the dozens of mashups demoed at the event, is a "social predicting website." You register for an account, enter a bunch of predictions or mark your agreement with other users' predictions, such as "Apple will release a phone." There's a page that displays the most popular predictions, along with related news stories, which are automatically grabbed from Yahoo's news API.
Edgeio lets people post classifieds simply by posting them to a personal weblog with an RSS feed and including a "listing" tag. Edgeio looks for RSS entries including that tag and aggregates them.
Check out the (incomplete) list of mashups presented at the event for all sorts of interesting ideas.
By Adrian Holovaty |
February 22, 2006; 5:37 PM ET
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