Mashups are, according to Wikipedia, “web applications that combine data from more than one source into a single integrated tool.” Wikipedia mentions that mashups can be divided into four main categories, including mapping, video & photo, search & shopping and news. The development of mashups most definitely affects us as interactive designers. In order to keep up with this movement, we should be designing sites with the capability of allowing users to create their own mashups, creating even more useful programs than there were before. The idea of open source software allows for the best product possible to be created, through the contribution of many people.

This article from ZDNet explains how mashups are exploding, with companies scrambling to be on top of the trend. According to the article, “its a space that is expected to grow into a serious one in the next five years. A widely covered new report from Forrester estimates, however, that this space is expected to grow into a $700 million a year industry sector by 2013, or about 1% of the entire software industry…” Another thing the article highlighted was the fact that companies are becoming interested in being the leading provider of enterprise mashup tools and breaks down the leading companies in this area.

This type of open source capability holds great potential, but some also note the potential problems. One article I read states, “ mashups using GData could break if, and when, Google makes changes to the APIs…There is no commercial contract with Google so there is no protection for anyone who uses it…” I also thought this blog made an interesting point about the business model of mashups. The author, Greg Linden, noted some basic problems with mashups as a business model, including that there are, “no service guarantees, limits on the queries of APIs, limits on commercial use of the APIs, numbingly slow, no barriers to entry.” Despite some of the problems, I think that mash-ups will certainly continue to grow.

I wanted to see some examples of mashups so I checked out Mashupawards.com. This is a site dedicated to the reviewing mashups sites and voting on the best ones. I was kind of digging through this site and noticed that you can look at certain types of mashups by category. I thought this was cool, rather than sorting through the long lists of mashup sites. I was able to find a cool site (http://mashupawards.com/mosaickr/) that turns your flickr photos into a mosaic. And I also found a site that would have been really helpful before I moved here-http://www.housingmaps.com/ . This site combines Craigslist postings and Google Maps to show you all the rooms for rent and real estate for sale.

There are so many ways that mashups can be used; I’m excited to see how this movement develops.

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