Hack day…er, and GBS

Posted on June 20, 2007


I’m lurking in a particularly grim hotel in Leicester right now, just getting together some thoughts for Mashed Museum tomorrow. Unpleasantness aside, I have wifi (ouch, expensive), running water, and electric light. And the bar is still open so I may head down for a “lonely bloke in hotel” pint in a moment..

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One thing which is really cheering me up is the incredible, remarkable and altogether life-changing thing which is Google Browse Sync. I’ve been a user for a while, but it’s only when you’re miles (sniff) from home in a prison-like hotel room that you realise how much time you normally spend farting around on your laptop for passwords, bookmarks, search history and all of that other browsing stuff. YES I know that Google are probably compiling some kind of dossier of my movements, YES I know that I should care about privacy or whatever, but this tiny Firefox app makes such an enormous difference to my life that I simply don’t care. Install it. Please.
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Back to the point. The other thing which I’m marvelling at – and will continue to marvel at tomorrow, all day, is the amazing thing which has happened to the web with the introduction of open data and API’s. I’ve just written a couple of demonstrators which do very simple mashy stuff with Flickr and Google and I LOVE IT. It’s just fantastic being able to get at these huge resouces of content and do groovy, weird, unthoughtof things. Yahoo’s Hack Day was earlier in the week – it looks incredibly inspiring – Frankie went and I’m looking forward to talking to him and seeing how we can learn from what they did.

Here’s my bedtime prayer – that museums continue to take the journey that some have started – by not only consuming these data sources but also exposing their own data to others, and playing. The whole heart of the mashup thing is a sense of playfulness, of not quite knowing where it’s going, of just doing it because it might go somewhere interesting…