Online services tearing down walls, sharing content

Fri Jul 25, 2008 7:32pm EDT
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By Antony Bruno

DENVER (Billboard) - It might indeed be true that everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten.

Take the first lesson: Share everything.

It's right there at the top of the list, but only now is the digital entertainment industry taking notice. Once littered with walled gardens and content silos, the digital landscape is beginning to sprout a customer-friendly ecosystem of shared content and traffic.

Fueling this newfound spirit of interoperability are technologies that enable the sharing of content between sites. They include the Open Social initiative and Facebook's open development platform, both driving the "widgetization" of the Web.

It's also a reflection of the surging "mash-up" movement online. A mash-up is a Web application that combines content and features from multiple sources for a specific purpose that none of the contributors do individually. The most commonly used applications are those with easily embeddable content or open APIs (programming information available to all), such as Google Maps, Twitter and

This mash-up practice has long been used by such niche music applications as WikiFM -- which merges a band's Wikipedia page with its music streamed from -- or Rhapsody+Pitchfork, which, as its name implies, adds full-song streaming from Rhapsody to Pitchfork's music reviews. Most are created by tech-savvy fans seeking their dream application.

But in the past year, mainstream services have taken the bait. In 2007, Music-based social network MOG added YouTube videos as part of its MOG TV service. Yahoo's FoxyTunes originated as a mash-up that combined artist bios, lyrics and news from Yahoo; related artist recommendations from; and links to buy tracks from Amazon.

The list goes on. TiVo users can now stream YouTube videos and Rhapsody's music. MTV is using its partnership with Rhapsody to let fans stream music heard on its TV shows. AT&T Mobility subscribers can choose between Napster Mobile or indie haven eMusic as their mobile music provider.   Continued...

<p>A sample Facebook profile is seen in an undated handout image. REUTERS/Facebook/Handout</p>