Saturday, 10 February 2007

Eureka! Mashable, but not as we know it

There is a lot of interest in Yahoo!'s new Pipes service, with some particularly good coverage from O'Reilly Radar (introduction, a bit about how it worksmore on how pipes are put together and other handy tips). What is Pipes? Well, as it sounds, its a kind of plumbing for RSS and other data feeds:

"Pipes is a hosted service that lets you remix feeds and create new data mashups in a visual programming environment. The name of the service pays tribute to Unix pipes, which let programmers do astonishingly clever things by making it easy to chain simple utilities together on the command line."

Tim O'Reilly is a bit more excited in his introduction:

"Yahoo!'s new Pipes service is a milestone in the history of the internet. It's a service that generalizes the idea of the mashup, providing a drag and drop editor that allows you to connect internet data sources, process them, and redirect the output."

I had a quick play with it today, by like Frank Gruber I had similar problems with response times and thoughts on usability:

"Though this product might seem simple to people within the web 2.0 industry or the blogosphere, I still feel it has a long way to go to make it easy and understandable to a mainstream user, like my mother, bless her heart. Furthermore, Pipes had a troublesome launch day as it experienced major performance issues which were highlighted by RSS-czar David Winer."

While we're on the subject of Pipes its also worth mentioning this introduction to IBM's QEDWiki video hosted on YouTube that is also worth checking out (if you can get past the "guy wearing a suit making lots of hand gestures and bullet points like no tomorrow" - guy happens to be IBM technology evangelist David Barnes). You can also try out QEDWiki online.

Overall, both Pipes and QEDWiki offer some glimpses into the user as programmer paradigm for Web 2.0 (and more importantly, Web 2.0 inside the enterprise - I make a subtle distinction from Enterprise 2.0 as that's more about social computing inside the firewall... yeah, I know but let's discuss that some other time).

However, at this stage I continue to think that these tools will be more appealing inside the firewall to the "super users" I've described before, than every day users.

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