Taking Yahoo! Pipes for a Spin

As I posted previously (in "PR and Web 2.0 Hacks, Mashups and Utilities"), Yahoo! Pipes seems like it has great potential for the intrepid Web 2.0 savvy PR professional.

It allows you to mix and match Web data sources from any source that offers a feed, process the data,  flexibly view the output, and publish the information via news syndication or HTML.   It taps into the immediacy of RSS, allowing you to leverage the growing number of online information sources for a range of uses.   One of the really cool (and Web 2.0-ish) aspects of Pipes is the social
component.  It is possible to mix and repurpose Pipes from the
greater Pipes community.

In short it promises to help you be the master of your online info domain.  For the information driven PR professional, it does not appear to get any better than this.

Robin Good, the original newsmastering evangelist had a detailed review in his post several months ago: "Beyond NewsMastering: Yahoo! Pipes Is The Internet RSS Remixer – Overview And Reports."

Also, the Marketing Studies blog has this good post on threats and opportunities for marketers: "Yahoo! Pipes a Dream Come True for RSS Marketers … and a Huge Threat."

So it was with great hopes and excitement that I recently took Pipes for a spin.

I thought, what better way to get my arms around this then to start with some of the news aggregation and buzz tracking applications that are already out there?

My eyes were big from the possibilities, however they quickly glazed over with complexity.  While it may be true that you do not need to be a programmer, you do need to be comfortable with concepts like parsing text strings in URLs, and in general have a good understanding of how Web content, search syntax and news syndication works.

The challenge quickly becomes clear when you are working with a more sophisticated application, e.g. one which accepts user input and submits the information to a variety of search engines, each which can have different rules for how searches are constructed.   Aggregated News Alerts is one such application.

One of the claims is that Yahoo! Pipes offers a visual programming environment that allows you to drag and drop components and interconnect these to your heart’s content.  You can in fact do this, however with the aforementioned application it was a quite a bit to take in. (See View Source).  The graph paper palette and all the components make it look akin to a diagram for rewiring a house.

Luckily, there is helpful documentation and support via Yahoo discussion groups.   And there are no shortage of people who have boldly gone before me.  In searching around a bit, I found this post from Ian Kennedy’s Flahspoint blog: "Yahoo! Pipes: a Giant Erector set for the Web", and an application for searching for luxury European cars on top auto blogs, which he helpfully published and provided a link to: European Performance Car news.

You can see how this works by clicking on the View Source tab.  Much less intimidating! In very little time I was able to modify this application to one that I can put to work for one of my clients.

The client is in the enhanced water business, and we are interested in tracking mentions of some of the top brands on the celebrity blogs.

So I tweaked the original application a bit, changing the search terms from car brands to water brands, and plugged in celebrity blogs like TMZ, Gawker and Perez Hilton.

I saved it and published it, and here is the result: Enhanced Water on Celebrity Blogs.

Admittedly, not momentous in terms of functionality or title, but definitely a start.  Now that I have gotten my feet wet I will explore Pipes further, and continue to feature interesting related posts and applications.

Meanwhile, I have updated my Buzzword Du Jour to Yahoo! Pipes and feature the latest news, which I did in about five minutes courtesy MySyndicaat (proving that Pipes and MySyndicaat are not mutually exclusive – there is a place for an information mashup platform like Pipes and a newsmatering solution like MySyndicaat).

This entry was posted in Web 2.0 Hacks, Mashups and Utilities for PR. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Taking Yahoo! Pipes for a Spin

  1. AlexW says:

    This stuff is still confusing! Your example does make it a little more clear than before…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *