Now providing API clients with 12 month of blog data

A few weeks ago we announced a few initiatives to make our blog data even better so that our API clients can get even more compelling and complete insights into the world of the blogosphere. As we put it: Our goal is to have the best blog data in Europe in terms of coverage, quality and immediacy.

Now we again have good news for our API clients: Until recently we have only had 4 month of historic data available through our Analytics API. As of now, we extend that data to a full 12 month, with no extra charge. With that change, we can provide companies and organisation with even better, more complete data.

At the same time we also upgraded our search language which will make it possible to search for single characters. Previously two character words were the shortest query. This is something that our customers have requested and we are happy to finally release these features. This upgrade will also make the data available faster. Before it took up to 15 min from finding a blog post to making it searchable in Analytics, going forward it will only take seconds.

And by the way, our goal is to make all our data starting from 2006 available through our Analytics API, so there is more to come!

For all users of the upgrade means that the public blog search can provide 12 month of historic data as well.

The future of web and location based apps

We have written before about the rise and competition of location based social networks (lbs) that enable mobile web user to make actions based on their whereabouts, like checking in to a restaurant, club or store, receiving information about nearby locations or seeing where their friends are hanging out.

But the the big question is: Should that be everything? Even if users might benefit from seeing who else is a regular visitor of a location or from knowing that a good friend is close-by, and even if they might get rewards for checking in often at a specific shop, using applications like Foursquare or Gowalla is still mainly a pure fun activity without deeper purpose and nothing that really helps you improving your daily live. I’m sure the majority of lbs users would agree with me on that.

Fortunately we have Robert Scoble, the Silicon Valley uber-geek, who recently wrote a guest article for TechCrunch, outlining his vision of how location based services will work and interact with other apps two years from now. And his ideas are compelling.

Basically, Scoble sees Foursquare as the heart of an ecosystem of apps that serve users in different ways. Instead of just checking in with Foursquare (or any other location based service that you would want to see in Foursquare’s position), the app would be connected through APIs with other web services and could trigger actions on those external tools.

In Scoble’s world, Foursquare could help notify a meeting partner about when he (Scoble) approximately will arrive (via Glympse). It could make Plancast, a “check-in” service for future events, inform Scoble about upcoming events in the immediate vicinity, and it could initiate a concert ticket search with Siri, the personal assistant service bought by Apple.

So instead of users making a lot of manual tasks separated from each other, one app would automatically talk to another app, based on a person’s location.

Scoble continues to explain how this chain reaction of app requests could trigger Yelp, the US review site, to search for popular and positively reviewed restaurants close to the concert venue. Afterwards, he would count on Blippy and Expensify to provide credit card statements and expense reports.

What Scoble describes is the end of the “information silos”, which means all those neat web services many of us are using on a daily basis, but that don’t talk to each other, and that can’t leverage the information and data we are spreading on the web, since it is pushed into information silos and can’t get out there anymore.

Actually you don’t need to be Robert Scoble to see all this happening. The whole process has started years ago when the first consumer focused web tools got developer APIs. APIs are the tools that help to open and tear down the information silos. Service A will be able talk to service B which could connect to service C. Suddenly all the information you gave service B can be accessed by A and C – if you authorized them – and they can learn about your preferences and interests. Suddenly a check-in at Foursquare would be much more meaningful, because Yelp (as an example) could use this information to improve its own results, to adjust them to you and to provide you with assistance without you even having to enter a manual search query on their website.

Location based services would allow for a much more personalized web experience, and they could make people’s everyday life much easier.

But as everything, there is a flip side, too. One challenge is that since many services are connected and relying on each other, if one part of the system fails, the rest would be affected as well. The more parties and APIs are involved, the higher the risk that at any given time, at least one would be struggling.

A second concern is more a theoretical one. But I wonder what it would mean for mankind if people “outsource” more and more task to machines. Could it happen that we lose our capabilities of managing and handling the most simple issues because we have gotten used to that they are taken care of by computers?

I’m not sure if this actually is something to be concerned about. But it might be worth a thought. In any case, connected web apps have the potential to increase our quality of life in many ways. So I’m looking forward to 2012!

/Martin Weigert

(Illustration: stock.xchng)