I spent all day Friday learning how the New York Times aspires to become a platform for a brave new world of online news (though they’re still figuring out how to handle user-generated content). Meanwhile, every social network hopes to be *the* platform for social media, be it Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. To be clear, it’s not just that platforms are the new black; rather everyone wants to control whatever is left after Google has exercised its droit de seigneur as the gateway to online information.
The latest entrant on the aspiring platform front is Wikipedia, at least according to Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb. In a post entitled “Could Wikipedia’s Future Be as a Development Platform?“, Kirkpatrick suggests:
Wikipedia can offer developers opportunities to glean analysis, suplemental content and structured data from its years old store of collaboratively generated information.
He also observes that:
There is no formal Wikipedia Application Programming Interface (API) but the data there is relatively accesible anyway. It can be downloaded and proccessed locally.
Having worked with Wikipedia data, I think that access via download is actually a better option than access via an API, particularly since most APIs come with parsimonious rate limits, e.g., 5,000 requests per day for the New York Times APIs. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of New York Times article data *is* available for download, albeit only under non-commercial licensing terms.
In any case, it’s interesting to see the rush to transform everything–but particularly content–into a platform. I can only imagine the marketing geniuses getting ready for platforms of platforms. Of course, what we really need is for all of this information resources to play together nicely enough that we can seamlessly integrate them into applications (yes, that’s what platforms are supposed to help you build!) without worrying which of them are platforms.
Out of the platform frying pan and into the SOA fire…