Ubiquity to be ubiquitous?

29 08 2008

Ubiquity is a web application that allows you to mash up various kinds of internet content and utilities that you might otherwise have to access or utilise separately. Broadly speaking, it uses written command prompts to bring content to the screen or application you are working on, which saves navigating away from the page or opening multiple browser windows. Ubiquity is being developed by Mozilla, who describe it thusly:

The overall goals of Ubiquity are to explore how best to:

  • Empower users to control the web browser with language-based instructions. (With search, users type what they want to find. With Ubiquity, they type what they want to do.)
  • Enable on-demand, user-generated mashups with existing open Web APIs. (In other words, allowing everyone–not just Web developers–to remix the Web so it fits their needs, no matter what page they are on, or what they are doing.)
  • Use Trust networks and social constructs to balance security with ease of extensibility.
  • Extend the browser functionality easily

I had a quick go on the trial version available, using Ubiquity to find a map locating the Brixton Academy. I don’t have the screen shot, but the end result looked something like this:

As you can see, the resulting map appears in the dark blue command prompt box that Ubiquity operates through, whilst keeping the page you were viewing open. Once it finds the map, I could then type ‘e-mail to John’ for example and Ubiquity would find ‘John’ in my contacts list and start a new message with the map embedded into the message page. I’m really impressed so far and it’s something I’ll be trying to use on a regular basis; if Ubiquity does everything it says it can it could save people a hell of a lot of to-ing and fro-ing on the net. Thanks to Peter Bihr for pointing me towards another gem, below is the Ubiquity tutorial I watched on his blog:

They did the mash, they did the monster mash (up)

27 08 2008

Mash ups: not, in fact, anything to do with this, this, or this, but a way of taking two or more web applications and combining them to make a single output that intergrates their features. I first heard the term related to music, where people would take vocals from one track and lay them over the music from another:

It was only after reading Peter Bihr’s blog that I became aware of web-based mash ups. They’re clearly a developing medium, as evidenced by some of the rather odd examples I came across on the Mashup Awards website, but there are plenty of genuinely practical applications that should ensure that mash ups are a phenomenon that sticks around. Some good examples inlcude VCASMO, which integrates Slideshare presentations and Youtube videos, Omnisio which does the same, World News Map, which links breaking news specific to nations on a map and Reelz Review which charts new DVD releases and hosts reviews, synopsises and trailers on the same page. I had a quick go on Yahoo Pipes, which allows you to build your own mash ups and came up with this, which uses a tour alert RSS feed and Yahoo maps to show you where the gig you’re going to is.