I'm in the CHI panel on Mashups.
The BBC Backstage guy is giving a "Basics" talk on what Mashups are.
Why do developers get involved in building mashups?
- new business opportunities
- it's cool
- they're frustrated with missing features/abilities in what the main provider supports
- to get noticed.
BBC Backstage is BBC's developer network for supporting third parties creating mashups with BBC's data. They only support non-commercial use, and stress that all intellectual property remains solely with BBC. They offer broadcast schedule data, audio and video archives, plus travel data for the UK (train, road, etc.)
BBC launched today reboot:bbc.co.uk, a competition to re-design the BBC home page. Cool idea.
The Google guy is talking about the technical underpinnings of mashups. and why AJAX and lightweight feed protocols make it much easier to do mashup web apps. The data sources are growing faster than specific UI services are, which is a problem at one level and certainly exacerbates UI consistency issues since each mashup developer needs to roll their own.
A good question from the audience about how to address accessibility issues for AJAX applications and machups in general.
Not a lot of good answers to questions; mostly a lot of "good question, there are people thinking about that, no answer today."
The discussant is talking about the privacy and security issues behind mashups. For example: do mashups make it really easy to develop a phishing site?
Another issue: authentication for mashups. If you go to a mashup site and type in your password for another site, how do you know what's really going on behind the scenes? Will we see the return of Passport? or will Infocard pick up quickly, or will Liberty Alliance finally get going? Will SSL be required? (is that too costly in terms of getting an SSL certificate from Verisign?)
The discussant is suggesting that mashup developers should develop more like enterprise developers.
The Google guy just said that we need to be careful not to put too much burden on mashup developers to "do things the right way." and we should look for technical solutions instead. (my editorial view: there is a natural tension here, but if we really want mashups to take off, the responsibility needs to be both on the mashup enablers as well as the mashup developers)
Is there a separation between mashups on Web sites vs. cell phones? The BBC guy says no.
Some audience questions around the intersection of "citizen journalism" and mashups, and the issues of accuracy, authenticity and reliability of information. Also if there are errors, how do we build a feedback mechanism from end-users through mashups back to the original data source providers?
Another audience question: mashups are a developer phenomenon today. Is there any chance to make it an end-user phenomenon? What would those tools look like? The Google guy thinks that it will happen eventually, but will just take time.
My takeaway: the discussant (Hart Rossman, SAIC) has thought far more deeply about the issues behind mashups than either the BBC or Google guys. Mashups are very very young, and the hype has masked a number of severe limitations. We've seen a set of relatively simple mashups where the end-users cna remain anonymous (like layering data on top of maps) and that maps (no pun intended) well to 3 of the 4 reasons stated above why mashups are getitng built: coolness, frustration, and to get noticed. The real business opportunities, in order to be realized, will require actually tackling the hard issues, and we'll have to see if and how that happens -- or if not, how quickly mashups dies as just one more fad.
I'm also disappointed at how little discussion there really was about the HCI issues related to mashups -- other than to point out that the HCI/usability community is not at all involved today.