One of my main interests is in helping faculty use technology to be more efficient and productive. Creating and using mashups is one way you can increase your productivity. After you read this blog posting, you will be off and running and creating your first mashup using Yahoo! Pipes. Yahoo! Pipes is an online graphical software program that allows you to easily create one URL from several sources. You can filter and perform other sorts of customized tweaks with your mashup too. But for now, I’m just going to show you a very simple mashup I did with four Boise State blogs.
What is a mashup? A mashup is a combination of various forms of electronic data into one resource. Here’s how Wikipedia defines mashup:
In technology, a mashup is a web application that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool; an example is the use of cartographic data from Google Maps to add location information to real-estate data from Craigslist, thereby creating a new and distinct web service that was not originally provided by either source.
When I first saw Yahoo! Pipes, my mind starting reeling with the possibilities for educational applications. For instance, you (or your students) could create a mashup of your students’ individual blogs. Instead of having to go to 10 different sites to view your students’ blogs, for instance, would just go to one. You can also customize the feed to include content that meets certain criteria by filtering. Yahoo! Pipes is the software interface that uses graphical images and your mouse to drag the various modules around and connect them together using connectors that are the “pipes.”
To demonstrate how easy it is to do this, I created a custom URL (and a feed is also generated) for four Boise State blogs:
- Mine (http://itcboisestate.wordpress.com)
- Bronco Bytes: http://broncobytes.boisestate.edu
- Albertsons Library: http://albertsonslibrary.blogspot.com
- Chareen Snelson’s blog: http://web-based-video.blogspot.com
All I did was to go to Yahoo! Pipes and click “Create a Pipe” at the top of the page. (You’ll need a Yahoo! account to use Pipes.) I used the “Fetch Feed” module, pasted the feeds, added a sort module, and then connected that to the Output module. Then I named, saved, and published the new URL. The image below shows what my pipe looks like after I created it:
You can also subscribe to your Yahoo! Pipe by clicking the RSS feed icon at the top. (I use Google Reader, so I would just click the +Google icon.) That way, you can get the updated posts of the combined blogs delivered to your feed reader instead of going to the URL.
When you go to my Yahoo! Pipes URL, you can click the “View Source” tab (you’ll need to sign in with your Yahoo! account) to see how I created the feed. As you can see, it is pretty basic, but a good start. I’m a beginner at this too! 🙂
Here is my idea for faculty members who ask their students to create and post to their own blogs and want other students to read them: Create a custom URL from a list of your students’ blogs by using Yahoo! Pipes. Then, provide this URL to your students so that they will have one URL from which to read all student blogs. If you don’t want to spend your time doing this, ask one of your students to investigate and figure out Yahoo! Pipes and do it for you.
View these online tutorials and you should be itching to get started:
- Info about Yahoo! Pipes Modules: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/docs?doc=modules.
- Blog posting: http://www.maclife.com/article/how_to_mash_up_rss_feeds_with_yahoo_pipes
Mashups are powerful ways to collect, filter, and display data. Once you get the hang of Yahoo! Pipes, you’ll be creating all sorts of custom feeds, based upon your interests.