Monday, 4 April 2011


This week is looking at lots of web 2.0 tools. First up are Mashups.

The concept of a mashup is the creation of something new from parts which come from various separate sources, resulting in an integrated whole. Many of the examples illustrate the integration of information with maps, providing easy to use visualisation of data.

This reminded me of a couple of things which I've seen recently, including a map of Christchurch earthquake-damaged buildings due for demolition:

View Christchurch Building Status: April 2nd 2011 in a larger map

and the Nerdy Day Trips map begun by Ben Goldacre and friends. I also have my own example of geo-tagging my photographs on a walk around Toronto.

These are nice examples because they also illustrate that a map mashup may be created by one person, using an official data source (as in the Christchurch map), by adding personal digital content (my photos) to a public source (Google map)  or may be a massive collaborative effort with many contributors (as in the Nerdy Day Trips).

We were asked to read Brian Lamb's ‘Dr. Mashup; or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix’, which I found a bit of a struggle. It was quite an interesting article, but longer than I needed - I'm sure there is content in there which would be interesting to return to when I have a bit more time.

Lamb distinguishes between content remixes/mashups (a combination of two or more works) and data mashups, which "combine data and functionalities from two or more Web applications". I think I've previously only had the idea of data mashup, so hadn't really considered that some might suggest simply combining content is also a mashup. If that is the case then the iGoogle page is a nice example, giving you the opportunity to aggregate lots of content (RSS feeds, email, social media links, calendar etc) on one page. As I think about it more, much of my iGoogle page relies on RSS feeds (from my feeds to PhD and xkcd cartoons, to my Google Reader list, to New Scientist headlines) and some of the content I've added probably is a mashup in its own right, for example the live train times from my local station gadget, which uses the API provided by National Rail Enquiries.

Kevin helpfully pasted an article which I much preferred, This describes mashups by integration and mashups by aggregation, which is effectively the same distinction as given by Lamb, but for some reason I absorbed it more easily - and I'd already been thinking about aggregating content too!

A few more examples of nice mashups I found:

  • Ordnance Survey map overlays for Google Earth, produced using the Ordnance Survey OpenSpace API
  • Audio/video mashups such as Wesch's 'Rethinking Education':


Brian Lamb, B. (2007) ‘Dr. Mashup; or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix’.

1 comment:

  1. Nice to see a post on mashups that is itself a mashup!