Earlier this week Yahoo! released Pipes an online service that allows anyone to pull together, or mash-up, third party feeds (RSS, Atom, XML), modify them with user defined filters and output the result to a webpage, aggregator or widget all using a visually attractive editor (you use a drag and drop interface to connect feeds, process them, and redirect the output).
So for example the ‘New York Times thru Flickr’ “takes the New York Times homepage, passes it through Content Analysis and uses the keywords to find Photos at Flickr.” And ‘Aggregated News Alerts‘ retrieves news from Yahoo!, Google, MSN, Findory, Bloglines, and Technorati on any topic, and merges all the feeds into one.
Last year Apple announced that Leopard, the upcoming version of Mac OSX, will provide tools to create your own Dashboard widgets based on RSS feeds:
“Create your own website widget using Web Clip in Safari for Leopard. Just visit your favourite site and click the “Open in Dashboard” button in Safari. Dashboard launches a new clip of the site in a customizable widget. From there, you can resize your Web Clip and choose from a handful of window themes. And since your Web Clip is always live, it acts just like the website it was clipped from. Dashboard for Leopard also introduces a movie widget that finds movies and showtimes in less time than it takes to make popcorn.”
All this points to an interesting development: non-technical, or at least less technical, web users being given the tools to start building their own mash-ups.
I think this may be very significant because until now the majority of users have been reliant on a relatively small number of technically savvy users to build (in the main) point-to-point mash-ups (i.e. combining two data sources to create another website). But with the advent of tools like Pipes anyone can build their own mash-up – pulling in whichever feeds they choose, applying their own filters and rules, and delivering it to wherever they want – a browser, a desktop widget or a feed aggregator.
If these tools become popular, and even easier to use, it will mean that websites will increasingly be seen not as destinations but data sources – with users pulling in data and services onto their desktop or browser rather than hopping from one site to the next.
Maybe we are seeing the genesis of Googlezon! ;)