New York Times on Microsoft and Mashups … and Mashup Camp 6 is coming!

You know mashups have hit the mainstream when they hit the NY Times, and this article is a nice introduction to Mashups and why they have become a key component of “Web 2.0”.    

Mashups in music are songs that combine words and/or music from 2 or more songs, and internet mashups are similar – generally they are a combination of the information from 2 or more websites or data sources into one site., for example, is an excellent mashup that takes real estate information and “mashes it” with mapping information, so you can navigate homes and prices via maps as well as in other ways.    Also in typical Web 2.0 mashup fashion, Zillow offers “APIs” or “Application Program Interfaces”   which are tools that allow simple integration of Zillow into your own website.

Mashups are not new but as they, and other Web 2.0 sensibilities, become the backbone of the new internet they represent a significant new direction in online life and computing.    Although the internet started out as a fairly open environment, the advent of big money led many websites and services to force users to pay for content and services.   “Paywalls” at sites like the New York Times, Salon, and others meant that you could not get at the stories unless you subscribed.     These paywalls are coming down now in favor of advertising supported revenue models and more open environments where websites tend to share data and even advanced technologies in exchange for the benefit of appearing as a link or an information box within other sites. 

Still confused?    Frankly, I don’t think anybody can even hope to digest the tidal waves of innovation and information that flood over the internet on a daily basis.    But if you want to understand more about mashups there is no better conference than Mashup Camp 6 coming up in in Silicon Valley in March.    David Berlind and Doug Gold started these camps a few years ago and they are a superb way to get up to speed very quickly on how mashups are …. changing everything. 

Google News goes local

Google has launched a local news service that scans local news items for context and then lists them according to relevance to your city or zip code query at Google News.   Testing this today on a few Oregon cities I’ve been  impressed with the results as they seem to pull from some obscure but relevant sources and if Google eventually starts using most of the tens of thousands of local newspaper online sites and other sources this could be a superb tool for mashing up news with websites and blogs.

Amazon unearths some great startups

The Amazon startup contest here has a video profile of the seven finalists in their contest which I think was to showcase users of Amazon Web Services (AWS).   I think  Jeff Barr  will have more about this on his blog or on Amazon’s blog.

These look like some really interesting companies.    One is measuring brain networking, another is providing 19 usability testing (this is brilliant for the small website market!)  One is optimizing PPC campaigns (hmmm – but won’t Google analytics do that extremely well?.)

Androids bearing gifts

 The Android SDK is out.   This would be geek speak for saying “let the cell phone games begin”, and perhaps market speak for “Palm’s Dead and Symbian is probably screwed”.

The Androids haven’t just landed though, they are bearing suitcases stuffed with cash for developers who bring neat applications to market.   This is more of the normal Google cleverness at work.   Don’t just make it free,  *pay* people to make it, and make it better than anything that has come before.    Brilliant!

Unselfish of Google?  Hardly. With their lock-grip on online advertising don’t forget who will be the big winner in a world saturated with mobile users surfing around a lot more stumbling upon super relevant geo-targeted pay per click advertising.    For those of you in the back of the class, that winner would be …. Google.  

Over at Om’s blog somebody in the comments suggested that Open Handset seemed like a solution looking for a problem, which seemed very ill informed to me.     It solves two big problems – crappy phones that will soon be like iPhones, but much cheaper, and it will bring more organization and convergence to our harried digital lifestyle by blending mobile and online worlds more effectively than the current players have managed to do.

Maybe I’m missing something but I agree with those who see the Open Handset Alliance approach as a profound sea change in mobile, and something that will shake things up quickly  (though not necessarily the prize money because  $10,000,000 is a drop in the bucket of cash at stake here – over a trillion dollars in the coming decade. )

I’m *already* anxious to get rid of my nasty Palm Treo software (and maybe the whole phone) given that it won’t even synch anymore without me losing all my data.  I envision a mobile future where my phone, PC, GIS, picture, and online needs all merge *seamlessly*, are accessible from all my devices easily and without any extra steps, and where I pay *nothing* for services in exchange for viewing ads or pay something if I want to get rid of the ads.

Open Handset is going to make that happen fast, and I wish them well. 

Google Open Social – wazzup?

It seems like the code for Google’s 3 “Open Social” APIs should be at Google Code but I can’t find the Open Social APIs, or even any mention of Open Social, at Google yet.   Maybe it’s been delayed or maybe TechCrunch’s earlier reports of a Nov 5 launch, rather than today, were correct?

It’s a typical internet deal where everybody is talking about something that has not even hit yet. 


Yahoo Mash – Yahoo!, don’t forget about Yahoo! Mash

Yahoo’s social networking tool “Yahoo Mash” offered up a good first entry into the social networking space by a major player.    But I’m noticing how it seems to be languishing after the initial positive buzz, and I think this is because Yahoo’s taking too long to go out with full bore, full online network promotion.  

Yahoo Mash offers some features I really like compared to Myspace and Facebook.  It’s an open architecture meaning that you can mashup mash with modules that show pictures or RSS feeds like this blog.   I think my favorite thing about Yahoo Mash is the way the comments stream from profile to profile, so you don’t have to keep bouncing back to a single spot to remember what you said to somebody.    I’m not enough of a social networking person to know if this is a real innovation or not because Myspace and Facebook also have some features that cross pollinate across profiles, but somehow Mash feels more like a “social networking” experience to me, even though I with it had the kinds of business networking features you find at LinkedIn.  

If Yahoo Mash is just working out kinks and getting ready to scale up to full release soon that is fine, but if the idea is to scale the project *slowly* over a year or so I think they are making a big mistake.  Why?   Because social networking is an explosive phenomenon both in the sense that it has quickly become a key online activity across all users but also because it seems to me that social networks don’t gain momentum gradually, rather they become “in fashion” as did Myspace and Facebook and grow quickly and explosively.   Facebook is still in this growth mode while I think Myspace growth is tapering off (I’m too lazy to go look at graphs to see if this is true).  

Disclaimer – I’ve got some Yahoo stock.  Not enough to prejudice my views, but perhaps enough to make me unreasonably optimistic. 

Mint Wins TechCrunch 40

Mint, the very timely and innovative startup that offers to organize *and optimize* your personal finances, won the TechCrunch 40 “competition” in Silicon Valley today.

I’m optimistic that Mint could be a great new company if it can get past the obvious key challenge – gaining enough trust from users that they’ll share banking passwords. This is a non-trivial problem given the incredible vulnerability you’d have if *all* your banking information was taken. For this reason I’m wondering if there is any way for Mint to figure out a way to offer some form of “insurance” to guarantee the protection of assets in the even of a Mint security breach. The challenge for them is that the depth of liability here is potentially enormous since they are “protecting” all of a users financial information. | TechCrunch | Mint Wins | Mint reviewed by VentureBeat

Programmable Web continues to rock

If you are interested in how mashups are shaking up the web world, or interested in mashing up your own content, John Musser’s Programmable Web is the best place to start.    This is a  very well-designed website with enormous content depth.   John’s listed thousands of mashups and APIs and categorized them in helpful ways.

Mashups are reshaping the internet in very interesting and dynamic ways and will continue to do this for some time.    For me it’s interesting to see the model of the early internet kind of “swing back” and again be characterized by information sharing rather than the “closed walls” that came about when big money started to flow into the system.  However this poses a challenge for new companies based on mashed up content because ownership of the content that results from a mashup is not always easy to define.   At Mashup Camp 2 I remember talking with Venture Capitalist Peter Rip who at that time felt that mashups *of themselves* were not the key value proposition, rather how the mashup might enhance the prospects of an existing company.   I’m still digesting his notion because it may lie at the heart of how most websites will shake out in the future.

As a user I’m inclined to want an internet that is free or very cheap, very open, very rich with content, and has few restrictions on the use or mashing up of content.   However as a travel website entrepreneur I don’t relish the thought of creating a great site only to have it’s content and ideas nabbed without any compensation.

Go Google Go. Mashups for the Masses

Google Maps strikes again with enhanced mashupability.   Google maps is clearly the leader in mapping which is curious because there are many other excellent mapping systems that are similar: Yahoo maps, MSN maps, Mapquest, and several more.

Google, as usual, offers simple integration with websites, very easy navigation, speed, and more.  It “feels” easier and more effective than the others even though I’m not sure it really is.   I remain puzzled by some of the approaches taken by others in the mapping space.   When in doubt just do it like Google does and you’ll have a great, heavily used product.

Blogging Revolution – Mashup Camp blogs

Hey Scoble!

Here are some good bloggers you may have missed though I’m sure you know some of them. The list is from the Mashup Camp conference series run by David Berlind ( a very good blog there as well) and Doug Gold who do a great job showcasing some of the new mashup companies and mashup providers like Google, Yahoo, MSN. I’m sorry to miss the one coming up in about a week in Mountain View but I’ll be in Philadelphia wondering how the founders would view the current state of our their great American experiment.

Mashup Camper Blogs:

Adam Trachtenberg

Adrian Blakey