We get excited around here whenever a new application offers an Application Programming Interface (API) for 3rd parties to develop against. Oh, the possibilities! Sometimes, though, it just doesn't pan out and our dreams are dashed against the craggy rocks of reality. Mashups are hard and just because you've got some cool data and good hooks for developers to pull from doesn't mean anyone's going to build anything worth using on your API.
Such appears to have been the fate of news platform Daylife, a company funded by some of the biggest names in tech and new media. Daylife recently held a "developer challenge" giving cash prizes to the people who built the best mashups with their API. Unfortunately, the entries they got were awful.
Mashups Mashups Mashups
We learned about the Daylife contest today on Programmable Web, the leading blog and database about public APIs and mashups. PW must have felt obligated to be polite and just report on the contest, albeit weeks after the winners were announced.
We were really excited to learn about the contest - Daylife is a company with some good technology, offering news content with some structure to it. What could make more interesting fodder for mashups than structured news data? It turns out almost anything could, if you judge from what came out of it.
If you can't see the video above where we look at the mashup contest entrants, here's a Flash version.
To take a tour of all the applications discussed in the video, you can visit this link.
There Is Still Potential Here
TreeHugger's GRNDX tracks media mentions of a number of words related to the environment. (No one cares about the environment this week, apparently, the Olympics are all anyone cares about.)The examples that came out of the contest are all relatively dismal, with the exception of the touchscreen news reading interface. Over on Programmable Web's page about mashups built on the Daylife API though, we found one very cool one.
That's pretty awesome - even if Treehugger calls it more fun than scientific. Fair enough, but let's see more apps like this instead of the wacky stuff that dominated the Daylife contest.