Did somebody say Mashup?

This past week I explored the Mashup. No I’m not talking about music here, I’m talking web content. I hadn’t ever been formally introduced to the term Mashup for web content but it turns out I love them! The most common Mashup is the map, typically using Google Maps to show tailored content. These are my favourite Mashups because 1) I am familiar with the Google map and so find them very easy to read, 2) having a map embedded into one’s website saves me time and gives me confidence in the finding the location, 3) they have become so common place to most websites that I get frustrated when they are not readily available.

That being said I couldn’t resist the opportunity to make my my own map Mashup using MapBuilder. The process was completely new to me and took quite a bit of time. Some reasons for the time commitment include my unfamiliarity, spending at least 15 minutes in Google Chrome trying to get it to search before switching to Firefox, and having way too much fun thinking of all the places I’ve been!

Now if you clicked through to my map already you will notice that it works perfectly for about 10 seconds before an error message comes up. I only have one possible theory as to why this is, I obtained an API v3 code, and MapBuilder uses API v2. The n00b that I am, this is my best guess and would appreciate any other possible leads. I haven’t yet had the time to look into getting an API v2 code, but if/when I do I’ll provide an update to this post. Just got the API v2 and now my map works wonderfully!

Now Mashups can be used with all sorts of data and, while this article shares more U.S. specific examples I think they are really intriguing ones. In particular I was impressed by This We Know and Poligraft.com (Poligraft.com can actually process some Canadian news articles as well). I see this Mashups as potentially relevant examples for Librarians and Information Professionals to consider. These Mashups provide a sort of value added service in terms of information provision, by simultaneously linking to further data and providing some contextual background of the actors and stakeholders involved. In my opinion these Mashups go beyond simple access to information and by facilitating a deeper understanding of issues of importance to patrons/users in a way that speaks to multiple literacies, learning styles and educational levels. This is the sort of accessibility for which I believe the profession should strive.

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