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David Lee King

Mashups and Subject Guides



I just had an interesting thought about library websites and mashups. Look at Wikipedia’s definition of a mashup:

“A mashup is a website or web application that seamlessly combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience.”

… and it goes on …

“Content used in mashups is typically sourced from a third party via a public interface or API. Other methods of sourcing content for mashups include Web feeds (e.g. RSS or Atom) and JavaScript.”

I was thinking about how I could add the concept of mashups into my fledgling web 2.0 presentation, and trying to come up with a not-too-techie example or two (pass some along if you have them!). And it dawned on me – those pesky Subject Guides that I talk about frequently could be considered to be mashups!

Why? A Subject Guide for a library website combines information from different sources. It can point to and even house information from the catalog, like new books or videos on a specific topic. It can point to articles in a database. It can point to original content created by staff. It can point to global web content. The catch is that it focuses on one area, or topic.

And in the process, a subject guide can use a combination of HTML, RSS, XML, Javascript, PERL, ColdFusion (in my library’s case),etc to create these guides.

OK – a subject guide maybe doesn’t really catch the geeky essense of a mashup, because for the most part, we aren’t using APIs or public interfaces to capture the information. But still – the concept is the same. We are taking information from “more than one source,” and combining it into an “integrated experience” that will help our patrons quickly find the information they need.

Library 2.0, Web 2.0, Mashup, Subject Guide

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