February 13, 2011

Before this week the only mashups I knew of were music mashups (Double rainbow all the way!). To be honest, I never would have thought that a map tagged with pushpins was a mashup. And I’m still not sure that I would recognize most mashups for what they are when I see them… For instance, when I look up ebooks on the Hamilton Public Library website, I am greeted with a page of scrollable book covers organized by genres (suspense, mystery, romance, sci-fi). Is this a mashup? I don’t know how the page was created. To me, the fact that I don’t even know when I’m looking at a mashup makes it the most mysterious form of social software we’ve looked at so far.

That being said, this week’s lesson and readings opened my eyes to the potential for blending data from different sources to create novel services or applications. Engard suggests some interesting ways that libraries have found to enhance their websites and catalogues using mashups. For instance, the map mashup created by McMaster University Library to show the location and time period of aerial photos seems like a particularly practical tool for researchers. While mashups like these are useful, they seem to me to require a higher level of technical expertise to envision and implement than the other types of social software we have been studying. Engard describes mashup developers in her book: “The creators are people with ‘spark’. They can see how two or more things can be combined to make something new, richer, or better.” Put me in the kitchen, and I’m a mashup expert, but on the computer I have a long way to go!

My map is done; to be uploaded soon… hopefully.

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