19 February 2007

The mash-up future of the web [BBC News]

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The way we use the web is changing and the future lies in mixing, mash-ups and pipes, says BBC columnist Bill Thompson.

“The real transformation comes from having the ability to take other people’s content and then filter, refine, recombine and reuse it in interesting and innovative ways.

This remix model brings us closer to the original vision of a hypertext, put forward by Vannevar Bush in the 1940s and realised by Tim Berners-Lee at Cern in the 1980’s.

Bush’s “Memex”, an electro-mechanical system for providing easy access to information stored on microfilm, relied on cross-references and user annotation, allowing people to add new documents but not directly to edit those they have.

Now Yahoo! has launched a new service that could have a massive impact on the way we think about our online activity.

While Google concentrates on challenging Microsoft Office with its online word processors and spreadsheets, Yahoo! has looked much more deeply into the way the net works and given us the building blocks for a brand new way of dealing with online content.

Their new offering, Pipes, lets you take a data feed such as the result of a web search, or an RSS feed from a blog or news site, or a set of tagged photos on Flickr, and transform it to produce the outcome you want. You can then make it available for other people to see. […]

This isn’t user-generated content, it’s user-controlled content. And unlike personalised pages or simple feed subscriptions it really does put control into the hands of the user.

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