Since the beta launch of Openkapow this week, the race is on to create new "robots" that automate the extraction of data or clipping of websites to create new mashup applications. Swivel describes one such robot (the "Netflix rental history bot") here. Perhaps more useful (if you're Danish) is the Danish TV schedule bot here - it's certainly the most popular bot so far!
Robots are great because:
- you can create them entirely through a visual interface (no scripting required), as demonstrated in a screencast here by Dion Hinchcliffe, grand-daddy-of-all-things-Web 2.0; and,
- you can mash up web content or functions that are NOT available as RSS feeds or Web Services. In other words you can turn any part of the human-readable web into machine-readable web!
Since the vast majority of the web remains "unwrapped" (in spite of all the Web 2.0 hype), robots effectively expand the mashable universe by an order of magnitude. A good example is the AllNewMusicRelease robot, which creates an RSS feed of new music releases for consumption in a browser, feed-reader or further mashup.
The iStockPhotoSearch robot creates a search in iStock's photo library specific to one user. Very handy if you want to promote a particular photographer and just send a link around that pulls together his work.
I find this one useful: you type in the name of a Top500 software company and it returns basic financial information.
Dozens of new such web services are beinbg created and posted on Openkapow every day. The next step will be for creative souls to combine these into more complex composite applications. The enterprise mashup wave continues....