Why WordPress?

I taught a class earlier this week where I told the participants that we were going to use WordPress to create a website. One question I got way why WordPress over Blogger? My answer was personal preference – but now I have some really great reasons for why WordPress over Blogger.

If you’re using a blogging package to create your entire website – then you can’t use Blogger because Blogger doesn’t have the ability to add pages. Blogger is purely for blogging and nothing else. WordPress on the other hand has a lot of CMS functionality and can easily be used to create a website around a blog.

The other reason I like WordPress is because you can switch from a hosted version to a version on your own server with minimal effort.

And the last and most important reason … WordPress is open source!!

I have just one problem with the WordPress.com site – I wanted to use it in my class where we were creating websites with mashups – and we couldn’t use JavaScript :( I understand the reasoning and appreciate that the people at WordPress are just trying to keep their sites secure, but it means that I had to use Blogger in my class and we couldn’t create a website – but just a blog with a bunch of posts by the attendees with snippets of JS from various sites we used to create our mashups.

Overall, I’m still recommending WordPress to students in my classes – and to everyone I talk to – but I have to find a viable alternative for my hands-on mashups class.

Map Mashups

Today I taught mashups for InfoLink at the Clark public library. We did some simple Google Maps mashups just to get a feel for it. Then when catching up on blog reading I found this article from CNet that talks about additional map tools.

Google Maps is dynamic. Making customized maps through the service isn’t very difficult. But there are a variety of third-party tools on the Web that help you create fully customized Google Maps mashups. From Flickr geotag integration to wedding event mapping to just doodling, you can do it all.

I’m going to have to explore this list in detail before the next time I teach a mashups class :)

Neat Map API

When I was at the Jenkins Law Library in Philadelphia years ago, I wrote an application for handling invoicing for many different purposes at the library. The one application I couldn’t figure out how to write was the one to charge the right membership fees. This was because we had different fees based on where you lived in relation to the library – but today I read about a neat new API that provides the very information I would have needed to make that application work.

Spatial data provider Maponics has released a new API that provides developers with access to several boundary data sets. Previously available as a beta release in February, the Maponics Spatial API (our Maponics API profile) provides access to carrier route, ZIP Code and neighborhood data for the United States.

The neighborhood boundaries data set includes over 60,000 neighborhoods in over 2,000 cities. The neighborhood boundaries API seems similar to the Urban Mapping API we covered last year, although a key differentiator is that the Maponics API includes the actual boundaries (something that the Urban Mapping API does not yet provide).

Sounds pretty neat! I love how many new ways there are to mash up data!!

Another News API

The Guardian has taking a tip from NY Times by adding an API for their content.

The Open Platform is the suite of services that make it possible for our partners to build applications with the Guardian. We’ve opened up our platform so that everyone can benefit from our journalism, our brand, and the technologies that power guardian.co.uk.

The Open Platform currently includes two products, the Content API and the Data Store.

This is great! I can’t wait to see someone mash up content from both news sources :)

Reading Radar

I wrote about the New York Times APIs a while ago, but today I found a new mashup using Amazon and the NY Times Bestseller Lists – Reading Radar.

Last week we reported on the release of another API by The New York Times: the Times Bestseller’s API. Well it didn’t take long for the API to make its way into a neat book recommendation engine called Reading Radar.

I think it’s a great example of how APIs lend to great new displays of data.

Found via ProgrammableWeb.

Map the world’s WiFi

This sound so awesome – but I can’t participate because I have a Mac.

WeFi is software loaded onto your laptop or mobile device. It automatically detects and qualifies all Wi-Fi access points within range and connects you to the spot with the best Internet connection. If the WeFi software detects a new access point, it allows you to be the first to map it. WeFi also provides you with Instant-Messaging tools, allowing you to create a buddy list, and to see where your friends are currently connected.

If you get to play with it, let me know how it works.

Found via SmashingApps.

US Congress API

Okay – now this is just sad – not sad that the US Congress has an API – but sad that the government has an API before most ILSes.

The New York Times has just announced its new Congress API, which provides capability for developers to access to four sets of data about US Congressional representatives and their votes: “a list of members for a given Congress and chamber, details of a specific roll-call vote, biographical and role information about a specific member of Congress, and a member’s most recent positions on roll-call votes” (see Congress API profile for details).

This news from ProgrammableWeb.

A mashup I’d love to see

I often have to drive around the local area to do talks and teach classes. Part of that is putting together expense reports. What I’ve love to see is a mashup of tolls and Google Maps. I’d love to see the total amount that the tolls will cost for the trip so I can write up my expense report.

This request is coming from me having to find the toll rates for the PA Turnpike – when I don’t remember what tolls I went through with my EZPass.

New York Times APIs

I’m catching up on blog reading after ages away from home and found two new APIs from the New York Times.

First the TimesTags API:

Today we’re releasing the TimesTags API, which is the gateway to a lush garden of Times metadata. What’s so great about metadata? Well, you’ve probably heard that “information wants to be free.” But even more than that, information wants to be found. And metadata — data about the data — improves findability.

Second the Movie Reviews API:

Today we’re launching the Movie Reviews API, a new way to access over 22,000 New York Times movie reviews going all the way back to 1924.

Keep ‘em coming!!! This is great stuff. One day soon we’re going to see a ‘super OPAC’ that uses a ton of APIs to enhance content displayed to our patrons!!