Week 11 Reflect: Mashups

Choose a LibrayHack data mashup entry and prepare a critical commentary on it. Consider questions like: What data inputs were used? What does the end product do? How successful do you think it is?

The library hack mashup competition invited participants to utilise data provided by a number of libraries in conjunction with data from other online sources to create an application. For the purpose of this weeks reflect activity, I have chosen to discuss the data mashup “Talking maps”, by Michael Henderson. This entry was the major prize winner in the library hack data mashups category, and can be accessed here.

This application is designed to display information both geographically- via an aerial view or a map and through a commentary- supplied as either a voice over or as text displayed in a bar on the right hand side of the page. The user can then scroll through the various locations listed, in an interactive tour or journey.

This is a particularly ambitious project in that it provides information on four different topics, which are:
A walking tour of West End, Brisbane
The Journey of the H.M.S. Endeavour
Sights and Sounds of the Brisbane 2011 flood
Real Estate sales in the early 1900′s

The information on each topic was sourced from the datasets and images available through libraryhack, and was then mashed up with images and data available elsewhere online.

From my experience of mashups so far, maps or aerial views combined with related data seem to be one of the most popular types of data mashup. Talking Maps is an excellent example of how this can be achieved, although I feel that some of the four topics covered were done better than others. The walking tour of West End, for example, tries something a bit different by adding a recorded audio commentary, however some of these commentaries seem a bit long winded or difficult to follow.

Another issue that I experienced with the application was that when I attempted to visit the Sights and Sounds of Brisbane 2011 Floods section, a username and password was requested, which I did not have access to, and as such I was unable to access this section of the application.

As such, this mashup does have some errors, but in general I feel that this is an excellent way of representing data, especially of a historical nature, which might otherwise be difficult to envisage.

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