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d.Construct 2007 Live: Tom Coates - Designing for a Web of Data

Matthew Pennell

September 7, 2007 at 2:41 PM

After complimenting Brighton on the quantity and quality of its gay population. Tom Coates of Yahoo! Brickhouse — the internal startup incubator where they are designing for the internet of the future — wants us to realise that “your site is not your product.” You must be part of the web of data, find paths through that web, and turn those paths into navigation.

The idea of what we think of as a product is changing, says Coates: Google, Flickr, Upcoming, Facebook, they have all escaped from the browser and pushed into other environments, and they can all be built upon — creating more fun, value and enthusiasm in their users. The web is changing from a network of pages connected by links into a web of data connected by services and APIs, and anywhere the network goes, these products have an outlet: “ubiquitous invasive computing”.

Design for re-combination, we are told. It drives people to your service, and puts you in the middle of an ecosystem. FireEagle is a Brickhouse project about location (“it’s where you’re at!”). By sharing information on your current location, there is a huge amount of data you can access and provide to users.

Datasets are useful the larger they are, so pretty soon you’re going to have a scaling problem. How do you find your way around all that data? With more data, says Coates. Whether created during the production of the data (e.g. Flickr’s camera type and aperture information), obtained through direct analysis, or through crowd-sourcing (e.g. tagging), more data means more relationships between pieces of data, and thus more pathways through it.

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