Mashups for Non-Programmers – an experiement gone slightly awry

So, we were one of the sessions first up at this morning’s Moosecamp. At the last minute we decided to change the format; originally we had wanted to try and stay true to the ‘camp’ ethos and do very little presenting and a lot of co-creating with the audience. But competition is fierce for attention at Northern Voice, and there are too many good sessions that I wanted to attend too, so we cut it down from theh originally planned 1 1/2 to 2 hour we had hoped for to a quick 45 minute show and tell, with the hope that anyone who got really inspired would meet us latter to get hands-on with the tools.

D’Arcy kicked it off and his set of examples worked pretty well, but right at the end, Pipes failed. Hard to tell if it was the Pipes app itself or an overloaded network conneection. I was up next, and even though I had a few Pipes-based examples to show, I luckily had a few others too in my bag. Unfortunately, one of the service, OpenKapow, seemed to not respond at the same moment, and Dapper, which I was using to illustrate how to create data sources where none exist, was sooo slooow that we had to move on. Oh demoitis, you cruel beast.

We at least tried to seize the moment and turn it into a teachable moment, illustrating that while there has been a true explosion of services, as “non-programmers” we are largely subject to their availability whims. 

Brian followed on with a parable of his efforts over the years with Aggrssive, which while I know he is hard on the results I still think was and is a valiant effort to create a software package to allow us to host our own feed mashups, something many of us at institutions require if we want to introduce these techniques into production.

And finally, Chris Lott brought a rock-solid performance, with hhis various experiments in Ning and Google Co-op working great.

I don’t noticed how many people we convinced that the potential for non-programmers to mashup content are there; that wasn’t so much our goal. For me the session was meant as an experiment on how far non-programmers could in fact go, and hopefully there were at least a few in the crowd who were inspired to push on further. If you are interested, the wiki page that we used to organize the session is chock full of additional examples and technologies to start creating your own mashups. Good luck! – SWL