Longtail, a 10-way Mashup

John Musser
Jan. 02 2006, 12:04AM EST

Kicking-off the new year with a bang is Francis Shanahan, who's latest innovative mashup is Longtail{beta}. His previous mashup creations include Zollage and Zuggest. This new one combines a "record setting" ten APIs not including a couple of the RSS feeds thrown in for good measure.

There's enough going there that it takes a minute to digest. The help page gives a good overview. But essentially it's a unique way to browse, search and purchase products from Amazon's entire product catalog while simultaneously comparing them against eBay listings and Yahoo! shopping searches. Or, see more about the topic via Technorati, A9, Google, YouTube, Flickr and elsewhere. Then, you can subscribe via an RSS feed. Or view it via WML on your Blackberry.

The current contenders for most-APIs-mashed would have to be Longtail and two examples in the programmableweb.com/popular Top 10: the Ajax-powered slick-UI of Virtual Places and the blogging tool Elicit. More does not always equal better but these are worth checking-out.

John Musser



Wow - that's a lot of mashing.

A few comments...

First, while I think the idea of using multiple sources to create additional "<a href="http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-... rel="nofollow">layers of value</a>" is great, that site would really benefit from more attention to visual and information design.

Without getting too specific, I'll just posit that some variation in size and color, and additional chunking and nesting, would really help guide eyeballs around the page and make it more <a href="http://www.asktog.com/papers/raskinintuit.html" rel="nofollow">intuitable</a>.

Second, I think the site in general, and more specifically the "AMZN + YHOO + EBAY" functionality might violate the <a href="http://tinyurl.com/8x42c" rel="nofollow">Amazon AWS license agreement</a>.

If you look at section 8.3 it reads "You may not link any of the Amazon Properties presented on or within your Application: (i) to any commercial page of a website other than the Amazon Website; or (ii) in conjunction with any Amazon Property, direct traffic to any commercial page of a website other than the Amazon Website."

I've always taken this to mean that you can't "commingle" the presentation results for a specific product, for example having a list of eBay auctions right next to Amazon's product details (as in effect Amazon would then be footing the bill to supplement eBay listings).

Lastly, all of the AJAX makes the "pages" impossible to bookmark which reduces the utility quite a bit.

It also prevents me from mailing a particular "context" to a friend which again reduces the utility and the ability to "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0316346624/dontsaythatoutlo/ref=n... rel="nofollow">sneeze</a>" about the site.

To summarize, great start with a few wrinkles to iron out.


Xbox Radar, thanks for the comments. Very valuable and I sincerely appreciate it. I definitely agree with you, the site right now doesn't degrade at all from Ajax. This is something I intend to add over the next month or so and your feedback is a great help.

I really wanted to launch and the last month has been nuts. Perpetual Beta as they say and Launch early and often.

I'm not sure about the license agreement but I guess we'll see. It would really suck if I had to dismantle the mashup and there is precedent with an eBay/Amazon mashup already (Amazay or something). Ask forgiveness rather than permission.

BaeBo is the first to provide RSS feeds of this kind and it took some really wild async technology on the server side to make it performant.

Just a side note: I had to change the name from Longtail as Chris Anderson (Wired's editor) has that trademarked. I changed it to BaeBo, crap name but it's content that's king in Web2.0.

&gt; there is precedent with an eBay/Amazon mashup

&gt; already (Amazay or something).

Yes, Aytozon.

I'm almost positive that site violates the license agreement. The lack of enforcement seems promising for commingling.

&gt; Ask forgiveness rather than permission.

Here here. That's my approach too :)