Mash It Up and Roll It Out

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Mash It Up and Roll It Out

In the music recording industry, a “mash-up” is a song that is created by mixing together parts of other songs. In the info tech arena, programmers have borrowed the mash-up concept to create new Web sites that combine content from multiple sources, with software functionality from one or more sources to create value that’s typically greater than the sum of the parts.

For example, a mash-up of Google Maps and a database of crime statistics from the Boston Police Department yields a Web site called www.boston-online.com/crime. The locations of violent crimes are highlighted on a map of the city with icons of guns, and users can click on a location to get the details of the crime that was committed at that address.

Many real estate Web sites create mash-ups by combining Google Maps and property listings to show the locations of houses for sale. At fastfoodmaps.com, users can see all of the locations of the top 10 fast food restaurants in the U.S on a single map. Hotmaps.frozenbear.com is a mash-up of the Hot-or-Not dating site with Google maps to show singles by ZIP code.

Another type of mash-up is the remixing of software applications to create new applications for corporate users. For example, at the Web site called AppExchange.com, business customers can mash-up their own applications from among the more than 300 programs.

Investor’s Business Daily1 reports that even businesspeople who lack technology training can easily create mash-ups. According to Adam Gross, Vice President Developer Marketing at Salesforce.com, which hosts the AppExchange site, “The reason mash-ups are so exciting is because they’re not painful to build or integrate.”

However, according to a survey by InformationWeek,2 only 7 percent of companies use mash-ups today. That should change dramatically, as executives discover the savings in costs and the improvements in productivity that mash-ups make possible.

By blending parts of different applications, users can build new programs that can deliver new services over the Internet. For example, DoubleTrust.net combines the results from two search engines, Google and Yahoo. Users can choose to see the sites that both engines return, or only the results from Google or Yahoo.

Consider Amazon Light, www.kokogiak.com/amazon which won the Technical Achievement award at the South by Southwest Web Awards in 2005. Alan Taylor, a former programmer for Amazon, developed the site to provide an interface to Amazon that is quicker to load and faster to navigate than the company’s site...

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