Dabble DB

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The internets are made of tubes

I had a fabulous time at FOO Camp this weekend. Alex Russell of the Dojo Foundation said it perfectly:

I’ve never experienced that depth and breadth of experience in one place before. Yesterday morning, I woke up at 9:30 after having gone to sleep at about 4:30 and I was kicking myself for having not been up at 7 because I could have been talking to people instead of sleeping.

It was that awesome.

Tim, thanks so much for letting me be a part of that.

Alex also mentions in his post the session I led on “pipes and filters for the web”. I’ve been thinking a lot about Open Data since giving a talk at the O’Reilly Executive Briefing, where that was one of the themes. More and more, we’re getting feeds and APIs that let us move structured data from one place to another, but the data’s not truly open until everyone - not just programmers - can use it to their own ends. One of the questions that came up at the session was, “How could we build HousingMaps from a few standard parts, without writing any code?” How do we democratize the mash-up?

The screencast that Andrew just posted shows our early experiments in that direction. With Dabble, anyone can now import data from a feed, combine it with data from elsewhere, restructure and filter it as needed, and push it out as another feed so the process can repeat. We’re especially careful to make sure those downstream consumers are well provided for, by putting structured elements in the style of IE7’s Simple List Extensions into all of our RSS feeds from now on.

There’s lots more work to do, of course. For example, these imports are one-time only, not recurring subscriptions as they should be. We need better standard ways of dealing with rich types like locations and date ranges. And although there are some good examples of structured data embedded in RSS, the majority of web apps still provide vanilla feeds.

So, let’s get to it.


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