I really believe that this industry is just in its infancy. None of the incumbents are guaranteed total domination into the future and there’s no reason to believe that the long tail of niche social networks won’t prove economically viable, individually a
And we are getting to the point that some web 2.0 companies are going to start failing. VCs will keep bad investments alive for a while, but they won’t pour good money after bad forever. We’ve seen some web 2.0 companies close their doors and we are going
A Mashup is according to wikipedia a web app that combines several data sources into one experience. Thinking about it that is exactly what millions of users do everyday on Facebook using the Facebook applications. Basically every application is a widget that is running in the Mashup Container Facebook. Each widget can interact with the world around it. So far there is no direct application-to-application communication that I am aware of, it is all via the Facebook infrastructure. But still each application can have access to your personal data as well as some data about your friends. This probably makes Facebook (one of) the worlds most widely used Mashup Container in existance today.
iGoogle and other widget platforms are not Mashup Containers in my definition until they allow the widgets to interact with the world around it. A widget that just sits there and does it’s little thing (like showing me the weather in my city) without being able to commuicate with the platform or other widgets is much less usefull than a widget that is part of a whole ecosystem. With OpenSocial Google, MySpace, LinkedIn etc are quickly becoming Mashup Containers in the same way as Facebook.
This is all very interesting because it means that millions of people are using Mashups every day, even building Mashups every day, all by using Facebook applications. How many of those people even know what a Mashups is? That means that Mashups are all among us already, but they are still undercover, much like aliens in some low budget sci-fi movies from the 50’s (“Plan 9 from Outer Space” rocks!).
One thing that was clear from Mashup Camp in Dublin was that Mashups are still not mainstream, even if they are creeping closer and closer. John Herren made an interesting comment in his Introduction to Mashups presentation at the Camp, and that was that we will know that Mashups are about to be really big when the spammers and phishers start to use them. So far the spammers are concentrating on email, wikis and blog comments, but maybe the next step is Mashups. I am not sure how that would look, but I can imagine that the ability to combine services quickly would fit phishers quite well, especially if the internet users in general are not aware of those possibilities.
It will be interesting to see how this will look like and how it will impact the Mashup tool vendors and Mashups in general. Spamming and scamming is part of growing up for all internet technologies (arguably for all communication related technologies) so let’s see how Mashups will handle the growing pains.