Mar

18th

Mashups: A Web2.0 Technique to Harness Outside Content to Work for You!

Blogging | Software | Web Marketing | Website Development


Summary: This article is one more in a series explaining and advocating for web2.0 technology, and how that technology is helpful in interacting meaningfully with customers and clients over the web. This article is the latest in a series of essays about the various facets of web2.0 technology, including Programming Web Content with Web2.0 and XML: A Key Powerful Software Technology to Grow Your Business and Engage Your Customers. As professional designers and providers of web services we know that our clients have a much higher and better quality of response from sites which strive to offer a better caliber of interaction with their customers. Web2.0 is an essential technology and component of that effort.

There are several distinct types of mashups – consumer and enterprise. Enterprise mashups usually occur over secure networks, and are processed on a server, while consumer mashups are more forgiving, and accomplished on the users’ desktops. Web-based mashups usually use the clients web-browser to do the combining and reformatting of data. The various data streams must be sent to the client device as individual data streams so that they can be processed. Server-based mashups will do the analysis and reformatting of the data on the server side and send the data to the client as a single data stream.

Early mashups were created manually by programmers. As with many programming break-throughs, they were first done by enthusiastic programmers just to see if it could be done. As mashups became more popular, there arose a market for tools to simplify and speed up the creation of mashups. Software companies responded by creating tools that allow designers to construct mashups in a visual environment. All the potential components of a mashup are presented in this visual environment and can be connected to create the desired mashup. While mashup editors have made the process of creating mashups much simpler, they have not done a lot to create new ways of accessing the data to be combined. Mashup Enablers address this problem by adding new types of data that can be added to a mashup. A mashup enabler is defined as “the service and tool providers that make mashups possible”.

This type of technology was impossible until recently because of the speed of the average consumer internet communication. The number of http requests needed to ‘feed’ one page of data necessitates a high speed connection to the internet. And the very nature of the requests makes pre-made dataset presentations unfeasible. Associated technologies such as XML, SOAP, JSON and evolutions in Javascript capabilities have also facilitated adoption of slick representations of this and other Web2.0 applications.

Here’s a mashup created using Yahoo pipes. Yahoo pipes is a graphic interface which allows querying, filtering, sorting manipulating and formatting output from sources across the internet. This particular one taps several RSS feeds using technology from Yahoo and Delicious. The combines them into a single feed which is sorted by dates so that the most recent articles appear at the head of the list. If left to its own devices, the pipe would return hundreds of thousands of articles! But for our purposes, we limited it to the 15 most current articles.
(add references to other Paladin articles above)

However, with the advent of readily available high speed processing on the desktop and high speed communications, this mashup technology is beginning now to come into its own. Web pages that before were static and ‘dusty’ and were outmoded before they were published are now beginning to give way to dynamic conversations between the provider and user. Mashups are one way of delivering custom tailored content to a hungry consumer with an ever shortening attention span and an ever expanding demand for information.

For the business owner, it is also a boon. Here is an excellent way to provide up to the minute content which can be tailored to the needs and desires of an interested customer – kind of like an MIRV missile (multiple independently-targeted re-entry vehicle). This is very powerful magic from a marketing and business development point of view. And even more exciting is that after the relatively small initial setup cost, the business owner can have his website updated and fresh, targeted to any individual customer or prospect by piggybacking on the technology of someone else!

Here’s a mashup using Flickr.com and Flickriver.com. Flickr is the repository of data containing the photographs, and Flickriver provides the technology that produces a randomly ordered list of up to 500 separate images from a pool of Flickr files. The list is different every day, so this blog article will show a different crop of images every day -automatically!

No, this is not plagiarism. It is perfectly legal and respectable. The providing companies expose their API (application programming interface) to the public exactly for that reason: they are anxious for other sites to share their technology because it establishes themselves as an industry standard, and makes it more likely that they will get a larger share of the business generated by the downstream customers .

If you feel that your company might benefit from such an enhancement to your web site and marketing program, please feel free to contact us. Additionally, we welcome comments on our articles in the space provided below.

Mar

3rd

Programming Web Content with Web2.0

Software | Web Marketing | Website Development


Summary: Recent advances in telecommunications, net technology and consumer expectations have brought about concomitant advances in the demand for more rich and sophisticated languages, content, and interaction on the web between the providers and users of the web.  These new abilities are loosely referred to as web2.0 technology.  Web2.0 allows a more engaging interaction between the producer and consumer, and allow a new depth of communication and interaction that even just a few years ago was impossible.  Sophisticated techniques and languages such as javascript, AJAX, embedded video, and other technologies make this possible.  This article provides an introduction to those technologies, which are affordable, elegant, and becoming more and more of a requirement in the web competition of today. Read the rest of this entry »

Feb

15th

XML: A Key Powerful Software Technology to Grow Your Business and Engage Your Customers

Software | Website Development


Summary:XML technology enables a host of new web techniques which enable B2B applications, RSS web feeds, and AJAX client side interactive web experiences.  Collectively, these modern web techniques provide a more rewarding user experience and promote a closer engagement with the customer.  XML and its related languages and envelopes will likely continue to be exploited to even greater effect in the web communication between buyers and sellers, vendors and clients.  This article is intended to describe the functionality of that technology, and to suggest ways that users might be able to employ techniques enables by XML to grow their business and better engage and serve their customers.  Paladin Consultants, LLC has in depth experience in the construction and implementation of this and similar techniques. Read the rest of this entry »

Feb

9th

Microsoft Software Mastering the Web?

Software | Website Development


Summary: As a prominent professional developer of custom software, database products, and provider of I T consulting services and web products and services in the NY NJ metropolitan area, we have been keen and interested observers of Microsoft’s performance and products that they have developed over the past 20 years.  In our opinion, Microsoft is losing the battle for market share of the software that is the lingua franca of the Internet.  In our opinion, this results from their design of products they make to produce reliance on other Microsoft products.  We believe that this feature is a result of Microsoft corporate culture, and not of any altruistic motive on their part.  The Internet, in contrast, is steadfastly committed to open standards to accommodate a vast variety of approches to community.  Neither of these attitudes seems like to change.  In our opinion, this disconnect will continue to work to the detriment of Microsoft. Read the rest of this entry »

Jan

4th

Using Database and Software Technology to Improve Your Business

Software | Website Development


Summary: This article is about using database and software to model and extract meaningful information from your business.  Many companies miss opportunities in communicating with their clients, and gathering valuable information from their business that can importantly advance the prospects of their business in a very cost effective manner.  The adoption of enlightened information technology using database technology and custom software in a business levels the playing field, and enables smaller companies to neutralize advantages enjoyed by their larger and more established competitors. Read the rest of this entry »

Dec

22nd

An Emerging Shed of Twitter Power Tools

Software | Web Marketing


A week or so ago, I wrote an article about mining research/marketing information in a new way from Twitter,. That site, Listimonkey, will monitor lists for you, and watch for key words.  When it finds your designated key words in your list, it’ll send you an email, designating the tweeter and the tweet, until you tell it to stop.

Eugene MandelShortly after my article was published, I got a tweet, from Eugene Mandel, who invited me to discuss the whole concept of data mining on Twitter.  That tweet led to a very collegial telephone conversation between us, in which we exchanged ideas which will provide the basis for this article.

Eugene is a very engaging young entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, who has been involved with a number of startups.  His current plans integrate very nicely with my concept of Twitter data mining.  My prediction is that his newest venture, mustexist.com, is destined to become an important tool for Twitter users.  He recently started the company with his pal and co-founder, Alex Sherstinsky, a Ph.D. from MIT.  These guys are very serious players.

Mustexist’s current product is called list tags. It allows one to take a twitter name, and creates a ‘cloud’ of lists in which that Twitter name appears, roughly signifying the importance of keywords in that person’s list audience by the size of the type in the cloud.

GlennbeckcloudHere’s a copy of Glenn Beck’s tag cloud.  I shrunk it down to accommodate the page size, and its contextual importance in this article.  Beck is on some 3800 lists.  Politics, News, and political head the parade, but further down the list are lists named things like ‘nutcase’, and other less desirable things to be associated with.  Mandel goes through the Twitter API, and finds all the lists on which Glenn Beck is mentioned.  Then, he queries those lists and finds the most popular keywords in their title.  Then he ranks those keywords by their frequency of appearance in Beck’s universe of lists, and performs a simple statistical conversion to interpolate the list keyword frequency to the type size in the cloud.

Pretty neat trick, eh?

But there’s more: list_tags enumerates some of the lists on which the Twitter member appears.  Here’s a picture of the TopLists for “Politics” in which Glenn Beck appears.  Now think, for a moment how valuable this Toplistsbeckinformation can be.  Many of these “top” lists contain 400–500 members.  These are lists for the top topic which have the largest number of members – regardless of whether or not the subject appears on those lists.  That’s valuable information for marketers, or for researchers and even job seekers.  But more than that– everyone who is maintaining such a list is someone who has enough interest in your subject to go to the trouble of maintaining a list of people who he/she considers are the leaders in the field.  And if that’s not enough, the lists editors is another valuable source of fertile relationships to cultivate.

The second. longer list is a list of which Glenn is a member.  So, in the case of a celebrity, it will not be unlikely that the same names will be on both lists.  I’ll not reproduce the Lists for ‘politics’ because it is too long – and because in appearance it strongly resembles in format the ‘Top List’.

So the stage is set now with a resource now to empower Twitter users with access to many lists.  A little resourcefulness will enable you to harvest those lists, and, by extension, to knowledge of all of their membership.  This will give you first hand access to communicating with the most well-regarded people in any given field!  And with the LIstimonkey resource, you can monitor the conversations of those experts for keywords.  With a little software jiggering and less than an hour’s effort, using our Glenn Beck example, we could identify, harvest and communicate with thousands of political junkies.

Mandel, however, is talking about taking Mustexist to a whole other level.  Using the database he has assembled for the list-tag project, he is planning to offer in the near future an interactive, iterative way of ‘surfing’ the tweetstream of these lists, in much the same was that Google lets you surf for articles.  He made the analogy of a newspaper in our conversation.  Each newspaper has several sections: sport, business, local, etc.  If you accept the proposition that a list’s tweetstream is like a newspaper, then it would be very productive to skim through the newspaper, looking only for articles that interested you.  You could skip the car ads, and dating club ads, and focus on baseball, or international news.

Similarly, over a period of time, a list’s tweetstream will have a lot of chaff: someone’s opinion of last night’s American Idol, inclement weather, mother-in-law coming for a visit…  But what if you could adopt a list, or amalgam of similar interest lists?  What if you could in real time and on an ad hoc basis query the stream for stuff like: climategate?  cap and trade?  world health organization?  BTU content of coal?  And how powerful would it be if you could pursue your line of inquiry immediately, based on feedback you got from the previous question?

I think that MustExist is on the verge of somthing quite important that will add a new dimension of empowerment to the serious Twitter user.  There are currently some 23 million Twitter users, 75% of which are either classified as ‘addicts’ or ‘regulars’.  That’s a reliable 18 million pairs of eyeballs scanning and interacting with Twitter several times a week – sometimes several times a day.  Any tool that can reliably and easily segment relevant portions of that population and then address them is bound to be very successful.

Please add your comments.  It is helpful to hear the opinions of our readers!

Apr

7th

OneNote Part1

Software


This article is the first of several about the application and integration of Microsoft’s OneNote program into our business, personal,  professional and financial lives.  It’s a program as important, in its own rite as Excel and Word, and very adept  at handling , categorizing  and retrieving  large and diverse ‘clumps’ of soft data. Read the rest of this entry »