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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Web Services + Information Repository

Web services are poised to revolutionize the way content sites get their goods to the folks who want them. Businessweek writes,this is a major change –It was thought of Web services as something that could only make business transactions easier. Last year just 4% of Web-services-related spending went to information dissemination and retrieval, Now the biggest forces behind informational Web services are information sites themselves. Hundreds such as Technorati have begun publishing their application program interfaces (API). They're letting the programmers from other sites know the easiest way to link up their news feeds. The result is a community of interrelated programmers and Web sites. Since Flickr, a Web site through which people can share photos, made its APIs available last summer, more than 600 developers from other sites have made use of them, says co-founder Stewart Butterfield.

Think of the site that has created as a virtual news fetcher, bringing all the relevant info right to your PC. No more need to surf around the Internet or plow through wordy government sites. It all comes to one spot, the personal Web site. Such Web-service sites are just starting to catch on, thanks to technologies such as the Extensible Markup Language (XML), which is sort of a lingua franca for Net programmers, and Rich Site Summary (RSS) feeds, which make it possible for sites to easily share data. It's not a stretch to say they could revolutionize the way content is delivered. "In the past, Web sites were data roach motels," says David Sifry, CEO of the search engine Technorati, which sends information to Govtrack via a Web service. "Your data comes in, but doesn't come out. Now it does. And Web sites are able to create services that are better than the sum of their parts." These new sites, built with the combined resources of lots of their pint-size brethren, are expected to gain on traditional ones in the coming year. Ad and subscription revenues are likely to follow. Mappr.com uses Web-services technologies to sift through photos posted by more than 300,000 Flickr.com customers and transposes them against a map of the U.S. All those photos essentially become a digital photo guide to America. Today, the question isn't "if?" It's "how much?" Ten years from now, savvy business folks will be asking the same of informational Web services.

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