There’s been a lot of talk about mashups in corporations due to the creation of successful mashup applications in the consumer world. EveryBlock (formerly ChicagoCrime.org) comes to mind.
I have 2 thoughts on that:
- Departments are over protective of their data and are reluctant to give up control.
- Mashups should not require developers to make.
Let’s talk about my first thought. A department is responsible for their services and data. Making a mashup requires opening up their services to the rest of the firm. There are several reasons why departments would be resistant to that. First, there’s hording. By that I don’t mean they horde the data, but rather their sense of ownership. Creating a mashup API means relinquishing some level of control. For some people, that’s one of their biggest fears. Related to that point is transparency. Exposing services could possibly expose the fact that much of what they have running are built on sticks and stones and smoke and mirrors. Perhaps I take too grim a view on this. These reasons among others are probably why we haven’t seen that many mashups in the corporate world.
Another thought I had was that mashups, besides requiring the exposing of services (which I claimed is a roadblock), also can only be created by developers. Yet, I think the people who would benefit most from these, the types of people who are power spreadsheet users for example, are pretty much locked out of them because they lack the skill or know how to create them. What if we rethought the way mashups are? Here’s a crazy idea – RSS feeds are slowly gaining exposure. A few years ago, RSS was strictly a geek thing although now, more and more people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of blogs and news feeds. I know that RSS has permeated into non-techies when my friend in MBA school is using Google Reader. What if we exposed mashup APIs that outputted RSS? Expose corporate services as REST APIs similar to that of Flickr and output the results as RSS. I think that will lower the barrier to entry for non technical people to tinker with services and to be able to consume the results in the RSS reader of their choice.
I think by opening up mashups to everyone, we will see an explosion in its use, much like how blogs allowed the average person to have a voice on the internet.
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