Web as Platform

In the initial post that kicked off this blog, I said that I would focus on how the promise of the ASP/Web Services vision is being realized with the connection of various web-based APIs into a new type of platform which lives on the internet. One way to experience the power of this vision is using outputs of each of these services and embedding them into your weblog template. Once you learn how easy it is to pull together a page of contextually related information that updates every time it’s refreshed, you start to think how other things can be connected together.

Outputs of one service can act as inputs to other services to further process and refine information via relationships that we set up in advance. It’s basic programming but using web services instead of self-enclosed objects, classes and libraries.

Jason Kottke brings the meme up-to-date with some of the latest services out there and thinks how a bundle of them could make for a comprehensive personal information management system:

TypePad for weblogs
Flickr for photos
Upcoming for your public calendar
iCal for your private calendar
Gmail for email
Feedburner as an agent to look for updates to any of these services

Kottke goes on to say:

Think of it like Unix…small pieces loosely joined. Each specific service handles what it’s good at. Gmail for mail, iCal for calendars, TypePad for short bits of text, etc. Web client, desktop client, it doesn’t much matter…whatever the user is most comfortable with. Then you just (just! ha!) pipe all these together however you want with services (or desktop apps) handling any filtering/processing that you need, and output it to the file/device/service of your choice. New services can be inserted into the process as they become available. You don’t need to wait for Gmail to output RSS…just pipe your email to Feedburner and they’ll hook you up.

One other benefit that comes to mind as I move my identity from one PC to another and one ISP to the next as part of a job change and relocation – distributed data is ubiquitous and never needs to moved from client to client.

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