Discover Your Inner Geek!

Mashup and M*A*S*H

My first encounter with mashups was with music. My favourite is The Verve vs. Jay-Z – Brush Your Bittersweet Shoulders Off, which can be found at These types of mashups seem to get into all kinds of trouble because of copyright issues, which is a shame, because the good ones are pretty cool.

I just did a little search on mapping mashups, and of course the big one now is the one that tracks the swine flu. One of my favourite mapping tools is Map My Run, which allows you to plot out running routes, see the elevations of those routes, log your times, track your training and even figure out how many calories you burned!

Surfing around the net, I realized that the term can refer to anything that uses two more things to create one thing. So this goes wayyy beyond maps. Through the mashup feed link, I discovered Glue, which allows you to share your surfing habits with your friends and see what your friends have viewed, liked, and reviewed online. It’s a mashup of amazon, wikipedia, youtube and a whole bunch of other sites. It’s not for me, but it’s a great example of how far you can take mashups, and how much is actually out there.

It’s crazy. I have seen so many new social media products, I don’t know how to keep track of them. Of course, that’s the point. They’re media, plural, and they offer a lot of choice.

It would be easy to reject all of this – blogging, Second Life, twitter – who really uses these things anyway? But I think it’s really important to keep in mind that these represent more than just a bunch of new tools. Social media are reflective of a whole new attitude towards communication. I grew up in the TV age, when your choices were print or broadcast. “Professionals” somewhere out there produced the content, you waited for it, and consumed it. We worried about how TV was “dumbing down” the public discourse. Print was better, because it required more thought. But the truth is, both print and broadcast were passive media for the audience. Even the early web was just a clickable version of print. The rise of sites like Facebook shows that people have a new attitude towards media – they expect to co-create their experience. Isn’t that a good thing?

There is still room for those “traditional” media (I still laugh a little when I think of TV as traditional), but I think we have to keep abreast of how we communicate with each other, how students communicate with us and with each other, and what the best communication practices will be, given the expectation of co-creation.

Social media may not be “where the kids are”, at least right now. But it’s our responsibility to try as best we can to understand the change in communication we are experiencing, to participate in them, and to empower students to make use of them in transformative ways.


– Chris G

Bonus: ever since I started thinking about mashups, I couldn’t get the the old 70s show out of my head:

Mashup Potential

I like the potential of Mashups.  Why not create a map of places to study on campus?  Students and staff could contribute photos of places to study; photos, personal descriptions, and info (such as a link for hours) could be mapped.  Did anyone come across anything like this?


I think I like map mashups. I thought the Campus Compass was kind of cool & useful. I found a Toronto map mashup that was potentially good–it said it showed where to find chocolate in Toronto (sounds okay, no?), which it did, but it didn’t include Stubbe’s, so I’m not sure how useful it really was. I found a site that should have been there, but somehow wasn’t, or wasn’t complete. I got the feeling that the university (I think it was in Pennsylvania?) was given some seed money to get a project going a few years ago, but never got the money to see the project through to completion (it was a map mashup of Dublin as represented by Joyce in Ulysses).

This made me realize, as an English prof, that map mashups might offer an opportunity to bring texts to life for students. I really enjoy doing literary holidays–you know, finding all the bars frequented by the Beats in NYC, or Bloomsbury haunts in London or the Lost Generation’s Paris. I couldn’t find any of these on the web, but wish I knew how to make them: I could imagine being able to click on designated sites on map mashups and voilà!…suddenly there would appear images, passages from novels, poems, letters, videos from YouTube. I would discover where to get Hemingway’s moveable feast or Virginia Woolf’s cheroots… Uh, what was that about the internet and procrastination…???

Reflection Part I-My Mashup

This geek in training has reached her maximum geekiness capacity and has created a mashup

This is the process

  1. Go to Popfly
  2. Click on Create/Mashup (I think you have to sign in before this, but it’s through your hotmail account)
  3. Learn about popfly and watch a video
  4. Try it out (I actually used something different, see below)
Popfly Environment

You have to go into the tool image to adjust the settings of each box, on the facebook box I changed the value of friends to “0” (to see all friend) and I changed the value of virtual earth to “address” (see below):

I also changed the last value (it doesn’t show here) to “false” in order to see the pins instead of photos (which is also cool).

I did all this investigation because I needed to understand mashups. I actually started with Yahoo Pipes but it was too complicated.

One more thing to share is EveryBlock, this website is great you get to see the news by clicking on map and it provides information about restaurants (inspections), crime, fire alerts, etc. If this can be used by a city, it can certainly be used by a campus.  You can also ask them to add your city!

This is Part I of my reflection because I want to think more about how we (mortals) can use mashups in our practice.