Geek Friday, Google Maps, and Am I Web 2.0 Now?
By pmonday on Dec 01, 2006
Friday's my mind tends to wander (well, it wanders Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday too...). It was time to learn something new and answer a question that's been in my head for a bit: Can I put a Google Map on my blog? In short, yes (as you can see to the right).
I continue to be amazed by Google, Amazon and others with the simplicity of doing these things. I know we had a big announcement on mashups this week, but the mashup is the result of years and years of strategy and incremental work efforts. The real breakthroughs I see are:
- Simplicity of accessing content
- Accessibility of content from multiple browser platforms
- FREE content
- Modular building blocks
When I was a kid, I walked to school five miles in the snow, sleet and rain leaving at 4 am...oops, ahem...wrong story.
When I was a kid, we talked about modular business components, lifecycle frameworks, plugins, and all the likes. The Amazon S3 APIs, the Google Web APIs, Web Services with WSDL so you can access the service from anywhere, are the realization of those initial strategies. Often, these newbies point fingers and say that the previous folks got it all wrong and that they have triumphed over evil. But nobody gets it right the first time and everyone ends up standing on the backs of others, whether they recognize it or not.
Here are a few things that these APIs (and Web 2.0) seem to acknowledge:
- They don't own the entire user experience (many initial "pluggable frameworks" were super modular, but also assumed that they owned the entire page (or application workflow). These new services are agnostic of the context they are put into, they do a job and offer multiple ways to call the service to get the job done.
- They don't take over the world, they adapt into the world
- They are content rich (who cares about infrastructure, its the content that matters)
- They are tool friendly (I can access the Google APIs or Amazon APIs from any IDE, any language, any platform)
Consumers (bloggers, etc...) have embraced the mashup...it is good. But what is more interesting to me is that there is a gradual shift occurring in the applications that run the world (or your storage, or your business). These applications are slowly being broken down into pieces and rebuilt as a mashup of their own. Applications that profess to know what is best for the user will disappear. No two system administrators are alike, why should we force them into a single user experience. Granted, it is still the job of application developers to build the most-likely best user experience, but through gradual discovery, application users should be able to customize their experience to contain the information they need, when they need it. And that information should not have to be boxed from a single company.
Let's use an example of Google Maps. Google made a great APPLICATION, http://maps.google.com. I can find stuff with it. But they also realized that in building their application, if they made it modular enough it could be plugged into other applications and used in ways that they didn't intend. Rather than build the one user experience for all, let developers tailor the user experience based on other contexts.
We're in a cool new world, especially if the lessons of the mashup can be brought into other applications. Application developers that don't understand the value of the mashup are doomed...doomed I say...ba ha ha haha.