As I’ve mentioned before, I would like a nice, clear, crisp definition for mash-up. A definition which captures the benefits that mash-ups can bring, rather than detailing a collection of tools, technologies and standards that we happen to find interesting at the time. For me, this is the TQM argument of fusing data and process to eliminate unnecessary decisions—make-work or swivel chair integration—to create a more efficient and effective work environment.
It’s Just a Bunch of Stuff That Happens has done a brilliant job of capturing this visually (included below). I like the usability aspect this highlights. A mash-up’s focus is cross-application usability—removing the annoyances of dealing with separate information sources. We could simply take these sources and squish them up against the glass, delivering the content into iGoogle or NetVibes gadgets. But what those original push-pins on a map mash-ups did was improve the usability of these information sources by eliminating the decisions required to navigate across them. Just as Apple did with the iPod and iPhone, eliminating or fusing functions to eliminate the (unnecessary) decisions required to navigate the overly complex and confusing interfaces of the mobile phones that came before them.
iGoogle and NetVibes are the Symbian to a mash-up’s iPhone.