Remembering a Time When the Web Was More Open…?

Way back when, when I was full of hope for social feed architectures constructed out of RSS and Atom content syndication feeds, I used to advocate the use of Yahoo Pipes as a means by which folk could start to develop their own content wrangling solutions. At one point, I even started dabbling with the idea of doing a simple recipe book, something I might even be able to make a bit of pin money from. But a completer finisher I am not, so…

Anyway – as the summer break turns into email nightmare catch-up, and I dream of a life not this one, I started pondering the recipe book idea again. Flicking through the Pipes related pages I’ve posted, and some ideas I never got round to adding in, I noticed that many of the recipes that I’d sketched with over the years are now defunct because the open and accessible technologies they were built on have been closed off.

So for example, using Twitter search feeds (JSON, I think, though RSS used to be an alternative too?) for mapping tweets, or discovering colocation communities. Or a twitter to audio pipe; or a pipe for serendiptitously discovering content related to a Twitter stream; and so on…

These pipes are not even pining now – they’re dead; Twitter gave up on RSS/Atom, opting for JSON instead; and while this wasn’t a problem – Pipes handle JSON just as well as XML based syndication feeds – the addition of authentication as a precursor to accessing Twitter data kills off the easy flow access to the data that Yahoo Pipes made such good use of.

Authentication also killed off a whole range of Amazon related mashups (remember mashups? I used to play with what used to be called mashups all the time;-): an Amazon Book Search Pipe, for example, or Looking Up Alternative Copies of a Book on Amazon, via ThingISBN; or even Amazon Reviews from Different Editions of the Same Book.

I also seem to remember making use of Amazon Listmania lists – for example, in support of the feed powered StringLE (String’n’Glue Learning Environment) riff on disaggregated MIT courseware using RSS feeds – although there again, I note that RIP Amazon Listmania.

Way back when, when the web was still opening up, services like Amazon – and then Twitter – help me cut my teeth on wrangling with web tech and near friction free information flows. Those services grew up, closed themselves off (or at least, added more friction than I care to work around). And just as I gave up playing with Amazon – and ceased taking an interest in pondering the flow of book information from Amazon sources – when authentication hit, so too I’ve now given up on playing with Twitter data (and as a result, cut down on my Twitter usage too; I don’t really care for it as much as an information space any more).

Such is life, I guess. The web has moved on, and I have got stuck. So maybe I need to move on too? Offers…?

PS see also Google Lock-In Lock-Out