Making Web Services Personal

Ben Trott, co-founder of Six Apart and its current CTO, led an all-too-brief session (20 minutes!!) on where blogging platforms are driving innovation in services and formats and the direction this may take in the future.

Blogs are beginning to evolve from simple journals to automated aggregators or personal content – effectively inverting the role of tradtional Yahoo!/MSN style portals, by placing the blog owner as the brand.

Trott described how the current generation of blogging services enable authors to combine data in interesting ways, aggregating data across multiple sites to form connections and articulate a rich personal identity…also hinting at mechanisms for creating location-based services. The bulk of the sesssion explored three service scenarios where blogs and open data formats are being orchestrated and wired together to create interesting new services.

The Personal Friends Aggregator is best descibed as an equivalent to the LiveJournal Friends that lists recent posts from a network of friend’s blogs. This service utilises open data and is therefore not tied to a particular service. This services interrogates your own FOAF social network description data for each friend, automatically discovers their syndication feeds and formats new entries into an aggregated list of links.

Trott’s Feed Splicer is similar to services offered by Feedburner‘s in that it takes, as inputs, all the syndication feeds that represent your online presence and splices them into a into a single feed.

The final service, a Blog Metadata Database, utilises the directory to ‘listen’ for new content from the blogosphere, fetch new each newly posted blog entry and extract metadata into a local database.

While none of the services described by Trott are innovative or shifts in thinking, they do represent the increasing simplicity required in synchronising and orchestrating data from multiple services into a new application; delivering on the promise of web services, but with much lower barriers to entry.

Many of the services and components described by Trott are available from Six Apart’s Professional Network Power Tools site here…


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