June 2009 Portland Web Innovators Meeting Notes

Here are my notes from the June 2009 meeting of the Portland Web Innovators group, which was hosted at Nemo Design. This is mostly just a list of resources that were mentioned during the meeting along with some other related items that I think are worth checking out. The discussion was titled APIs: How Earth Shaking Could They Be and Why Haven't They Shaken The Earth Yet?; here's the original description:

"Join Marshall Kirkpatrick at the Portland Web Innovators June meeting. Marshall, lead blogger for ReadWriteWeb, will lead a discussion about the potential of web APIs and a critical look at why they may not have lived up to it yet."

Be sure to also check out July's event: Demolicious! - Portland Web Innovators - "Come see the great stuff your fellow Portlanders have been working on. There will be several ten minute demos of new products and side projects." It will be held on Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 7:00pm at Jive Software, which is located at 915 SW Stark in downtown Portland.

API creation

Dapper data mapper
"Use Dapper to create new means for people to access your content. Create RSS feeds, widgets, and APIs with your content and links." You can also have Dapper grab content from other pages and output it in the format of your choice.

"Mashery services provide a powerful, flexible, and secure framework around your API ... Mashery provides robust, secure API management infrastructure services"


The New York Times API is quite extensive and well-documented.

The Twitter API

Activity streaming/lifestreaming

Activity Streams
"an extension to the Atom feed format to express what people are doing around web"

"Identify is a Firefox extension that combines identities across various social network/media sites and provides you with a profile about an individual." It can be activated while viewing a blog or profile of an individual to bring up a window with aggregated information about that person.

An impressive and very nicely designed service that allows you to aggregate your activity from other sites and present it as an activity stream, create mashup stories from your various activities (very cool, see this example), and even download backups up your data (e.g., download an archive of your Twitter activity as a CSV file).

This is another activity aggregator / activity stream hosting service that gives you a free .mp domain which also functions as an OpenID. It has more detailed privacy controls and a contacts manager which allows you to import your contacts lists from various services into one collection, and you can even export your aggregated contacts list as a vCard file for importing elsewhere.

An iPhone app for lifestreaming. For example, you can "View all your social networks in one timeline" and also "update Facebook and Twitter simultaneously".

See also the Ping.fm and HelloTxt services, which have extensive options for updating multiple sites. Both services also provide mobile-friendly versions of their websites.

Applications to check out:

  • TweetDeck and Seesmic Desktop - Adobe AIR applications focused primarily on Twitter and Twitter-related services, though they also include support for updating Facebook.
  • Nambu - This is my current favorite application, but it is only available for OS X. The free iPhone version of Nambu includes support for Ping.fm, FriendFeed, Twitter, Identi.ca, and Nambu's tr.im and pic.im services. The desktop version currently only supports Twitter (including multiple accounts), tr.im, and pic.im, but support for the other services is being incorporated as well.
  • EventBox - EventBox is not free and is only available for OS X, but it looks promising and can be used as an RSS reader as well (with Google Reader syncing). I currently use NewsFire as my desktop RSS reader, but I do like the idea of a unified application for both RSS and social networking.

Portable Contacts
"The goal of Portable Contacts is to make it easier for developers to give their users a secure way to access the address books and friends lists they have built up all over the web."

"notify.me delivers notifications that interest you in real time. It eliminates the need for you to constantly check on classified listings, blogs or social networking sites. Notifications are delivered to your destinations of choice such as instant messenger, mobile phone, email, desktop or web application."

Data resources

"The purpose of Data.gov is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government."

Infochimps is "the largest public repository of free [and redistributable] datasets on the Web."

Search, analytics, and data analysis

Eras of the web:

  1. hyperlinked content
  2. ease of content creation
  3. data analysis

Future eras?

  • machine learning
  • machine aggregation and analysis of data

Search tools that attempt to perform automatic data analysis (with varying degrees of success):

  • Google Squared
    Google Squared turns search results into a spreadsheet that can be added on to.
  • Wolfram Alpha
    Wolfram Research's new search engine
  • Bing
    Microsoft's new search engine
  • Gnip
    Gnip searches out the data based on the requested parameters. You tell Gnip "which people, tags and keywords are of interest across a variety of web services and Gnip immediately begins collecting the relevant data, normalizes it and delivers it in real-time."

A free web service that "automatically creates rich semantic metadata for the content you submit". E.g., automatically extract keywords, generate tags, determine geographic locations, etc from your content.

A URL shortening service that sends the content of the source page through Calais to extract keywords and makes the data available through an API.

Related topic: "cold start problem"

YQL (Yahoo Query Language)
"The Yahoo! Query Language is an expressive SQL-like language that lets you query, filter, and join data across Web services. ... With YQL, developers can access and shape data across the Internet through one simple language, eliminating the need to learn how to call different APIs."

A reverse image search that can be used to locate where on the web a particular image is being used.

"Discover the best blogs, find and follow topic experts and influencers, and customize your subscriptions with PostRank engagement filtering!"

Top Twitter friends visualization tool.

"Twitter Directory, Twitter Search, & Twitter Yellow Pages"

Tweeps/Tweeple ? (I'm not sure which service this was referring to.) (This was referring to Twellow.)

FastFigures (Portland-based)
Web and mobile calculators for "Accurate, Sharable Calculation".

Communication, collaboration, and content discovery

"A new way to collect content and connect with people who share your interests. Use Twine to track, find, and share what interests you. Twine ties it all together by topic, so you can have it in one place." Twine will also recommend content to you based on your interests.

Google Wave
"Google Wave is a new tool for communication and collaboration on the web" and "uses an open protocol".

Information resources

An excellent resource for information on "APIs, mashups, and the Web as platform".

Marshall writes for this "blog that provides Web Technology news, reviews, and analysis".

Ankur -- Thanks so much for

Ankur -- Thanks so much for your great notes! It's going to take me a week to get through checking out all those sites.

I think the Tweeps/Tweeple was referring to Twellow, the Twitter bio search site (which you also noted).


Thanks Adam! There were definitely some great resources mentioned during the discussion. I'm looking forward to future PDXWI events!

(Thanks for the note about Twellow; I will update my notes.)