Tagmashup

Street View plus Instagram = The Beat

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The Beat is a gorgeous service for story telling and documenting. Simply put, it’s Instagram overlaid on Google Street View, putting personal experiences and stories in context. It was build by the Social Media Information Lab at Rutgers University.

Now, The Beat is centered on topics, as represented by hash tags. So you don’t pick a place to look at, but a topic. For a quick impression, check out the hash tag #onlyinberlin.

And at this point it provides context only along the spatial axis, by matching the photo’s geo location with the coordinates on Street View. It’d be fantastic if the time axis could also be integrated somehow. It’s not easy to do nicely, but it’d be fantastic. Also, I wish a Street View layer for historic photographs existed that worked just like The Beat: Here’s what this building looked like in 1903, and how it changed over time.

It’s a great example of a playful & delightful mash up. I thoroughly recommend taking a few minutes to check out The Beat.

Berlinblase summarized in one Moo card

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Berlinblase is back. But as of now, we have a Moo card that says it all:

berlinblase.de. live, raw and uncut by Flickr user dotdean Image by dotdean, licensed under Creative Commons (by-nc)

Not enough info? There’s (a bit… work in progress…) more on Berlinblase > About, as well as a brief intro to the crew.

Next-generation content management for newspapers (is in the making)

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Image: Howard Beatty by Flickr User Ann Althouse, CC licensed (by-nc)Steve Yelvington helps newspapers get the web. Newspapers have a hard time adapting the new ways of the web, what with all this user-generated content, changing consumer habits and dropping sales. It’s a huge cultural problem – traditional vs new vs social media – too. (And it’s not that newspapers, their editors or their management are stupid. Of course they aren’t. Still, they struggling.)

Working with Morris DigitalWorks, Steve is working on a next-generation news site management system. Quite a claim to fame, but both his track record and the few details he already shares back it up. So what’s different here?

We’re integrating a lot more social-networking functionality, which we think is an important tool for addressing the “low frequency” problem that most news sites face. We’re going to be aggressive aggregators, pulling in RSS feeds from every community resource we can find, and giving our users the ability to vote the results up/down. We’ll link heavily to all the sources, including “competitors.” Ranking/rating, commenting, and RSS feeds will be ubiquitous. Users of Twitter, Pownce and Friendfeed will be able to follow topics of interest. We’re also experimenting with collaborative filtering, something I’ve been interested in since I met the developers of GroupLens in the mid-1990s. It’s how Amazon offers you books and products that interest you: People whose behavior is the most like yours have looked at/bought/recommended this other thing.

That’s music in my ears. The whole thing is based on Drupal, which has always been strong on community features. Here, it seems, the whole platform will be aimed at creating mashups, drawing in RSS feeds, pushing them around and spitting them out. In the end, you should end up with a pretty lively site full of both professionally produced and user-generated content and commentary. Of course, by providing both input and output channels for RSS feeds, the data isn’t restricted to just the website, it lives on beyond, way in the cloud.

And the best thing: Usability-wise it’ll be aimed not at techies, but at editors. No major coding necessary:

Open tools and open platforms are great for developers, but what we really want to do is place this kind of power directly in the hands of content producers. They won’t have to know a programming language, or how databases work, or even HTML to create special presentations based on database queries. Need a new XML feed? Point and click.

That’s great news, and certainly a project to watch closely. Can’t wait to see the launch. October it is.

(via Strange Attractor)

Note: So far, the CMS code hasn’t been released under a GPL, but they’ve pledged to do so. All in good time.

Image: Howard Beatty by Flickr User Ann Althouse, released under Creative Commons (by-nc)

Ubiquity brings text back to browsing, let’s you mash up everything

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Fresh from the Mozilla labs, Ubiquity looks like one of those plugins that might seriously change the way we do stuff on the web, or rather: in our browsers. It’s a new user interface that comes as a Firefox plugin, and it allows you to “ask” your browser for stuff by text. Sounds kind of… lame, or old-school? Maybe. But seriously, in this case I don’t think it is. I haven’t found the time to check it out more thoroughly, but take this video as a token; I’ll take it for a spin asap.


Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

Update: I’ve been testing Ubiquity for a few days now. First of all, it’s becoming more and more clear to me that a smart, language-based interface like this can be extremely powerful. The whole idea of on-the-fly mashups is pretty amazing. That said, it has a long way to go, just as it can be expected from an early prototype. (Ubiquity is a 0.1 alpha version.) The interface isn’t too powerful yet and doesn’t always get what you enter, emailing can be a bit awkward at first. However, the potential is clear from the very beginning. As of now, it’s something for what Robert Scoble calls “the passionates“. If you consider yourself a more settled down type of consumer, then you’d better wait for a while. If you’re one who enjoys tinkering, then what are you waiting for? Go get it and take it for a spin!

The sun is Constantly Setting (watch it)

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Out of Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino‘s lab comes Constant Setting, a beautiful Flickr-based mashup. Constant Setting shows us photos (released under Creative Commons, tagged on Flickr with sunset and a location), from those places where the sun is setting right now. So what happens is, you get to see a never-ending flow of sunset photos from all over the world, following the sun setting around the globe. Beautiful – make sure to switch to full screen!

Constant Setting, image courtesy Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino Image: Constant Setting, courtesy Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Constant Setting was created by Alexandra D.S., D’Arcy Saum and Nick Chip. Read more on Alexandra’s blog, and don’t forget to watch the sunset.

Downing Street 10 relaunches, goes all Web 2.0

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Downing Street 10, the British Prime Minister’s office, has just announced a relaunch of their website. The new website is full of web-two-ishness: Prominent space for video (via Brightcove), Flickr integration, YouTube, Twitter, blog, you name it.

Downing Street 10 Relaunch Screenshot: Downing Street 10 relaunch

As I’m testing it, the intro video about the new site won’t play, but by the looks of it they definitively got the basics all right. The design looks kind of old-school (hint: serif fonts don’t automatically look all respectable & traditional), but overall it seems like a decent job. It’s all mashed, syndicated, aggregated, has del.icio.us and Digg flavors as well as links to Facebook.

The UK has been very good at all things e-democracy, e-participation and all, what with the official Ask the PM via Youtube, or the (not government-run) projects by mySociety.

I’m curious what’s going to change over the first couple of days, there’s certainly some stuff that could be tweaked. (For example, the Facebook links go to pictures or videos on Facebook which at a first glance doesn’t make terribly much sense, unless I’m missing something.) Overall, though, why not more like this? Good stuff.

Tooltips for syncing slides and video

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VCASMO is a pretty neat tool to sync video and slides. Just sayin’. VCASMO syncs videos fromm youtube or similar sources, and slideshows from slideshow.com. It’s a great little mashup, the results can be embedded either 440 pixels wide (as seen above) or 850 pixels wide:


Then there’s the Adobe Air based service Parleys, which looks very slick indeed. I can’t seem to find the embed code, so I can’t really tell if it’s embeddable. Here’s a demo. (Here’s a quick run-through of Parleys.com’s publishing tool.)


Omnisio actually looked the most promising, judging by the user interface and overall smoothness. It seems, however, like Google has aqcuired the service and is integrating parts of it into YouTube, namely into YouTube annotations. Sadly, that means you cannot create new slideshows with Omnisio. Also, the annotations seemed to be the most annoying part in the demos I watched. (I turned off the annotations after a few moments each time.) Let’s see where we’ll see Omnisio again:

</p> <div><a href='https://www.omnisio.com'>Share and annotate your videos</a> with Omnisio!</div> <p>

Update: The latter two services were added after the initial publish.