In web parlance, a “mashup” is a computer application that brings together elements of other applications. One of the key concepts behind it is that of APIs (application program interfaces), a term that is increasingly hard to avoid seeing. An API basically defines how other programmers can access a particular application. When Google first published its APIs, it was big news, as it allowed people to take specific data from Google and use it in their own applications. This helped set a trend, and now the whole much vaunted “Web 2.0” phenomenon is based on most new web applications having APIs that others can use to create new applications. For example MashupFeed compiles all the new mashups, that are appearing at a rate of around 2.5 per day. The just completed Mashup Camp conference was centered on mashups, including the economic models as well as the technology and emerging applications. Arguably the majority of the innovation and creative intent on the Internet now centers in this space.
One of the hottest applications in this space is the soon-to-be launched Edgeio (which comes from “edge” – where all the interesting activity happens on the web, and “input/ output”). In a nutshell, it allows people to post classifieds listings on their own blog, and for these to be taken and presented in one place, with links back to that person’s blog. It can also be used for any other content. In principle, this could challenge eBay and other classifieds giants – instead of posting a listing to sell something on eBay, you put the relevant information on your own blog or website, and anyone else can find it and compare it to all other offerings on the Internet. A good overview is given by the very first report on Edgeio on BusinessWeek’s tech blog. Some worry that Edgeio is too cognitively complex for people to understand. However I think the basic concept isn’t too hard. If you have a blog, you have power. You can do what you want there, and automatically participate in the collective space of all interactions. Why work by the rules others create?