Mashup Engines And Web 2.0

Mash-up engines (automated mash-up creation tools) are one of those concepts that people think is very cool. You do a survey and ask if people would use it and they say “God yes – every day for as long as I live” – but in the end only very tiny percentage do. You need an idea – and you need the “Why?”, in the end – most people don’t.

I built a mash-up engine 7 years ago. It won an award. These things are great for playing with – but in the end they seem to be little more then playthings for homo-internetus.

At best these are a gateway drug to real programming – at worst it will do to the Internet what desktop publishing did to paper. Make it ugly. Have you ever seen a decent website design that used Kai’s power tools?

I say again – you need an idea – and you need the “Why?”,  in the end – most people don’t. Go visit Wear sunglasses. Click around to other people. Yes – they are all like that. I’m yet to see a myspace page that didn’t make my eyes bleed.

Ning actually kind of failed. Look at what they used to do. All they do now is do social networking sites. They used to do many different social mash-ups.

The parameter binding in Popfly [video] is identical to what MetaWrap would do when joining functions. And for me that’s the coolest function in it.

Dapper and OpenKapow seem out of the news – but they are still up and running, hopefully growing, learning and refining. Both are uncannily close to what MetaWrap did.

The modern console computer games industry is regulated – you can’t just publish a game for a platform. The platform manufacturer needs to approve and licence it. There is a reason for this. So many of the games that came out were terrible and it reflected badly on the platforms. So they stopped just anyone from publishing a game for a console.

Maybe I’m just bitter and twisted or maybe I’m experienced and wiser to the way of the world. I’m not even sure myself – your call 🙂

Every time there is a new buzzword/movement, companies start offering solutions that purport to let you buy it.

I’m getting really sick of slick consultants selling Web 2.0 as a product when the best they can come up with as a definition of Web 2.0 is a cloud of related things. Even the creator of the term Web 2.0 could only come up with mind map that seen here is a self referencing parody of a tag cloud.

I really don’t want to de-program another client who wants to add something from the Web 2.0 tag-coud because “I heard its really great”. If it will provide real benefit to users then yes I’m all for it and I’ll push the boundaries and blow your users minds. Most of the time its just not appropriate.

It’s a movement and a historical line in the sand – you can grow your hair long and wear paisley – but that does not mean you were a hippie at Woodstock.

Its like 250 years ago turning up to someone and saying.. “Hello, I’m selling the ‘The Industrial Revolution’, like to buy some? It’s very nice.”

Don’t do things for the sake of it – you just need to be aware of what is the state of the art. At best Web 2.0 is a starting point for a topic that should be called “Modern Website Development” – which by its very definition is out of date the moment its printed. If you are concentrating on delivering concrete useful features to your customers using modern techniques then you are probably “Web 2.0” already.

Sell them a steam-engine. Throw in a few bonded child laborers and get the site designed by a romantic poet standing on cliffs with the wind sweeping back their hair. Don’t sell them a movement.

If you want to know what Web 2.0 was/is about  – read this. This is the pure stuff Tim O’Reilly wrote to try and define the beast. Everyone else is just selling you this wrapped in gold.

If you need to pay someone to interpret it for you – then good luck.

About James McParlane

CTO Massive Interactive. Ex Computer Whiz Kid - Now Grumpy Old Guru.
This entry was posted in Rants, Web2.0. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mashup Engines And Web 2.0

  1. See, your problem is you haven’t had the web 2.0 explained to you by the right people –

  2. Nick says:


    Pure gold

    I have had much pleasure sharing this with one and all.

    errrr can I have the raving froth you had to write it too.

  3. david wesson says:

    wasn’t it oreilly that invented the term in the first place?

    I think web 2.0 if you had to give it a classification is the generation of internet tools and web applications that were available at at particular juncture in the development of the modern internet.Either way you will always get people using terms for thier own ends but I find the trnsformation that has taken place fascinating
    see my blog article from last year now

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