MashUp Camp 2 is nearly upon us, attracting 350 attendees, some with the new job title of ‘MashUp Enabler’, and a lot of API developers plus a noticeable shift to some very well known big companies as their employers. Here are more details on the event and on various aspects of the MashUp Camp community.
The fact that the second camp is popular should be no surprise, the surprise for me is the extent to which MashUps are becoming, or have become, a normal fact of life. This was really brought home to me by a colleague who used a MashUp over Google Earth, or may be Google Maps, when he moved house to be able to locate where all the useful places, (Bank, School, even the corporation rubbish dump), for his family. He was thinking that maybe he could encourage his new neighbours to share this adding their own useful places as they discovered them to help their neighbours.

The killer app of the spreadsheet was just as personal, created and shared by the PC enthusiasts, and more important completely invisible to the corporate data centre. MashUps seem to be on the same path, rapidly increasing use and sharing by people, almost complete invisibility to the corporate IT department. True there are some great examples of use by enterprises, but still not that many.
The similarity between the spreadsheet and the MashUp is even closer when you consider their prime function; the spreadsheet enabled a user to make personal sense of a mass of data, meaning numbers, spewed out by mainframe and mini; the MashUp enables the user to make personal sense of the mass of content, meaning a wide variety of formats, created on web sites. Nested Spreadsheets between groups of users to create a master view became an increasingly powerful corporate tool, but too this day the concern remains as to the extent to which this is ‘outside’ other enterprise, (legacy?), applications. On the other hand the sheer value created makes this perfectly acceptable, even by CFOs, and of course CIOs!
This is not so strange when you recognise that the spreadsheet belongs to a different generation of technology to the legacy applications, and we seem to have learnt to live with this separation. MashUps are in the same way another generation jump, and yet we are still at the stage where CFOs and CIOs are uncomfortable with them. Maybe the answer with the spreadsheet was the ‘legitimisation’ that came from the inclusion in big name software vendors offerings, and if so then a look at the attendee list suggests that’s going to happen.
Maybe it’s just lack of understanding; not only on what a MashUp can do, but also what the risks in use are, and how to manage them. You don’t have to actually go the MashUp camp to learn more, try their active and interesting blog.