Thursday, July 12, 2007

Looking at Pipes

One of the topics Matt Barnes discussed during his portion of the Technical Services 2.0 session at ALA was "mashups." As I understood it, a mashup combines elements from different web resources and combines them into one usable element pursuant with the developers wants/needs. Most importantly, it is a skill used generally by hackers and those involved in open source software programming (see again the statement "as I understood it"). I found it an interesting premise, but one I would most assuredly not be using in the near future. Now it seems there is a way for the average user to create mashups.

A Test Drive review by Jeff Hastings in the June issue of School Library Journal highlights Yahoo!Pipes, "an interactive data aggregator and manipulator that lets you mashup your favorite online data sources." (About Pipes, Yahoo) Hastings briefly defines mashups, details his first experimental use of the service, and defines Yahoo! Pipes.

"Yahoo! Pipes consists of information gathering and processing modules that you select and drag onto a grid and then connect, flowchart style. You select what goes into your pipe and reprocess it to get the results you want spewing out the other end. There are modules that fetch, count, filter, combine, and sort information from RSS feeds, as well as modules that interpret, extract, and import location data so that you can regionalize your pipe’s output. You can also plug in services like BabelFish and Flickr to translate or associate images with your pipe’s content." (Hastings, SLJ, 6/1/07)

I have the site, and Hastings' article, bookmarked with my blog items. It looks a bit complicated, sounds like fun, and may have interesting uses in libraries; create specific mashups for classes and users.

Below is a quick sampling of web definitions:

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