Credo at the Worldcat Mashathon in Amsterdam
In mid May, I had the pleasure of representing Credo Reference at the Worldcat Mashathon, hosted by OCLC and the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam. This was a 2-day conference attended by technologists interested in integrating applications with data services from OCLC Grid Services and provided in beta form from OCLC’s department of Programs and Research. The technologies included APIs to Worldcat, Worldcat Registry, xISBN, Identities (names) and other data sources.
What stood out for me were the interesting possibilities that emerge when quality information from reliable sources is mined for relationships and then presented in structured formats through simple web APIs. When web application developers pursue mashups—ideas to combine information from different sources in unique ways—you can easily run into complexities caused by unstructured information, or surprises caused by noisy sources. It’s a different story when information organized by the library profession becomes available in discrete self-described units.
Compare this to the “Hail Mary” approach—mashups that integrate results from popular web destinations by scraping the top keyword search results and displaying them in a integrated view. You can sometimes impress with a mashup like this, but I call this the Hail Mary approach because that keyword search is really a long toss that the programmer/quarterback hopes produces a touchdown. And the quarterback essentially has no control over the outcome—it will either result in a miraculous win or, more likely, game over.
Sites that provide structured information using standard identifiers change the game. The user experiences that are possible by mashing these resources start to look like tailored results. The popularity of Credo’s ‘Related Resources’ demonstrates that this type of integration is valued, and the structured resources we experimented with in Amsterdam start to show how to take that user experience to the next level of utility.
See a video of Pete presenting the Identities Mashup he worked on here.