Whenever I see the term “mashup,” I visualize cleverly altered, often funny video or audio clips, modern contributions to the art of bricolage. What I’d not considered until the launch of Yahoo! Pipes is the employment of mashup tools to filter information, making it possible to spend less time getting more of what I want from the Web.
Innovations by Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google show how RSS mashups can clean up digital clutter, or as Jay Neely put it, give us “More Signal, Less Noise.” Recently introduced tools, including Google Mashup Editor, Yahoo! Pipes and Microsoft Popfly are especially powerful in that they allow the user to filter feeds for duplication of content or for relative credibility. Or, they can be used to correlate the data from feeds with other sources, showing consistencies and inconsistencies in reporting. And, for major time savings, these tools can be used to combine feeds on similar topics into a single feed.
While many of the tools currently offered are in alpha or beta, and may leave something to be desired from a user interface standpoint, they hold tremendous potential. Anything that can help users separate the “useful” from the “available” in the tsunami of data arriving via feeds each day deserves our attention.