Today I want to rant about a few things I hate. They include:
- The Word “Mashup”
- Proclamations of the form: “A Thing is Dead; Long Live that Thing”
- People Who Insist on Continuing to Use the Word Mashup
- The Term “Web 2.0”
I know it’s heresy. Mashups and Web 2.0 are what’s hot, right? I myself am considered to be a “mashup creator” working with Web 2.0 concepts.
But that era is behind us. The term “Mashup” made sense when coders were actually lifting data from places it was hard to lift from and putting it into contexts that were hard to access. This, my friends, is no longer the state of affairs on the Internet.
Today, we are working with a world of data that wants to be free and is published via countless, well documented API’s. In the cases where API’s are still not available (or whorishly published in hopes of becoming universally adopted), advanced tools and protocols are available to automate what used to be hard.
We must remember that the word “mashup” hails back to music, originally; a talented music editor might string together pieces of previously recorded music to create something new. This was an artform in itself, and implied a kind of subversion. A repurposing of content, often done without the permission or knowledge of the original creator.
Well, the days of this kind of thing on the Internet are, thanks to everybody’s efforts to open things up, largely over. In a world where open source software is widely accepted, where it makes sense for companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Amazon (and gee, every other damn company out there) to publish API’s that encourage their data to be woven into the fabric of the net, there is no need for the coy sense of subversion that comes from the word “Mashup.”
What we’ve got now, folks, is DATA! Great flowing rivers of it! Software that helps us use it! Ruby on Rails, Asterisk, MySQL, PGSQL, Apache, Freeswitch, Flex! Where it’s not open source, it’s at least free! Everything has an API and the things that don’t are falling away.
The next person that says to me with a straight face that they “make mashups” is going to get sucker-punched. The word has lost its meaning, so let’s move on.
That said, explaining to a layperson what it is we “creative coders” do, sometimes you, well, have to resort to saying, “I make mashups.” But do us all a favor, try to explain what that really means today. Let’s move to a world where we can think about data, about tools (which is really just code-as-data), and imagining what we can do with it all.
Mashup was a good word for perhaps 2003-2007, but it implies limitations and barriers that simply no longer exist. We can do better.
What would YOU call the innovations that are possible with all the data and tools we have today?