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16 December 2009

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twitter.com/vielmetti

Jim -

I am sure that mashups are useful; I've built a handful of them myself, using tools which I understand just barely well enough to make things work (but not to really understand them).

My recent experience with extracting and transforming and interconnecting data coming out of local government sources has been frustrating in many cases, generally because the systems I end up dealing with either are closed off (except via FOIA requests) or that they are constructed in such a way that simple mashups fail. It's clearly possible for things to work, but it's more code, and especially more code that isn't really very valuable or quick to write.

Given how frequently systems change some aspect of their public but not documented behavior, most mashups end up being pretty fragile. That means you either need super smart people coding them, or you need tools that are smart for the uncreative and diligent people who need the info, or you need to be prepared to have things break unpredictably from time to time.

I wish the EMML effort well, but it sounds like hard work.

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