Today’s pattern is "Innovation in Assembly". This is the third pattern as defined by Tim O'Reilly at a conference on Web 2.0. What this turn of phrase means is allowing access to your data via an application programming interface (API). An API allows controlled access to the data underneath. You can lock down, or open up as much as you want. An external developer can create an innovative application that is assembled with one API to one platform, or alternatively multiple API's to multiple platforms, creating a mash-up.
The purpose of creating an API to your data is to stimulate ideas to extend your Web 2.0 platform. All the main players of Web 2.0, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Amazon have API's. This approach encourages enterprising users/developers to think up new ways to utilize the data created by the Web 2.0 platform. When data is accessed via an API the platform can track this access, and generate statistics that they can use for marketing and research. Knowing where your traffic comes from is an important statistic.
A good example of innovation in assembly is gigpig.fm. Gigpig mashes together event information in Brisbane and globally from various sources. Gigpig doesn't create the original data, it uses API's to Web 2.0 platforms such as Eventful, Bands in Town and Last.fm. They format the data in their own way and allow searching for live gigs. They re-assemble the data for a specific purpose, allowing those interested in just one type of event to cut through the clutter. They match the Innovation in Assembly pattern by:
- Utilizing various API's to access multiple Web 2.0 platforms.
- Enhancing and improving pre-existing ideas
- Take single pieces of data from various sources and mash them together to form useful information.
- Enhance their users experience by providing extra information, by use of Google maps to provide venue locations.
The screen shot below shows the information mashed together, including a location map courtesy of Google maps. They also show where this information is sourced, so you can always go to the original source. This shows transparency, as they don't hide where they get their content. You can see they also show nearby gigs as recommendations of other gigs of interest.
This pattern is all about piecing together data from singular or various sources to make new information or to simply enhance what is already there. Web 2.0 sites want developers/users to extend their platform as this creates an ecosystem, for the platform to grow and improve. This in turn equates to financial growth. If people are heavily invested in an ecosystem, they will want to stay in that ecosystem.
Mashable.com article: Why the Best Innovations are about Relevance, not Invention
What is an API?
What is an API?