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. Zillow.com, 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.