Week 5: Mashups: it’s what all the hipsters are doing

Before this week’s lecture, the only meaning the term “mashup” had for me came via Glee. A quick Google search also led me to this little gem wherein a hipster Granny explains a music mashup.

Now I know, as Fichter states, “a mashup is a web application that uses content from more than one source to create a single new service displayed in a single graphical interface.” The mashup I have the most experience with, even though I didn’t know its terminology at the time, are maps with locations ‘pinned’ on them. I find these extremely useful, especially within the library context. Having a mashup map of your library region with the locations of branches on it increases usability for patrons, since they can point and click and link to the branch they want. For example, I find that the Ottawa Public Library uses this technology quite well, so I can quickly link to my home branch to find hours, phone number, etc. Whereas, the library I work at, Lambton County Library, does not use this as effectively since it does not display the name of the branch when the mouse hovers over.

Fichter also mentioned in her article the “mashup ecosystem” where open access data can be made available on the web. This freely accessible data can be in turn made “mashable” on another website. An example is the data.gov site of the American government.  Here researchers can access data sets as sources of primary data produced by the government at no cost. Linking through their “Apps” I found datamasher, a site where users can create mashups of governmental data in order to compare various states on specific issues. Check out this mashup of crime rate and education. This example shows how mashups can be of use to those of us not going the public library route in our careers.

I found completing the assignment this week of creating a map mashup to be quite simple with the instructions laid out in the blog post. The only issue I had was uploading it with FileZilla, but I think it was because my filename had a space in it. Once that was removed the map uploaded fine, as you can see here.

So to conclude, mashups are a useful way to present information visually by combining two or more sources to create something new. Whether that be musical songs, maps, or data sets, one thing is for certain, mashups are increasing in popularity. I think it can be said that it is due to the “hipster” quality of a mashup: taking something old and combining it with another old item to make something new. Just like owning a fixie and Buddy Holly glasses, when a map is combined with the pins of specific locations, it is immediately cooler.


About librarevolution

MLIS student on the mend View all posts by librarevolution

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