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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Yahoo Pipes: My Favorite Mashup Builder

Yahoo Pipes allows the user to combine, aggregate, and filter feeds so that the resulting feed pinpoints the information you want. Instead of having to write complicated scripts, Yahoo Pipes' graphical interface lets you drag and drop the blocks in which you enter the URLs of the feeds, the names of the filters or key terms, and then to relate them, or "wire" the feeds together.


The portal page for Yahoo Pipes ( contains useful information, descriptions, and links to downloadable video demos.

The possibilities are endless. Yahoo Pipes encourages mashing together Yahoo products. They are probably the easiest to do. For example, filtering Yahoo news with the filter "pit bulls" and then wiring that feed to a Flickr feed that has been filtered with the same ("pit bull") tag will bring you stories with pit bulls in key terms, along with photos in the Flickr database that have been tagged "pit bull."

One can use non-Yahoo feeds as well.

For example, one can filter U.S. Census RSS feeds ( so that you can be alerted whenever statistics come out on unemployment in the construction industry. Using Yahoo Pipes, it is easy to "wire" the U.S. Census RSS feeds you like to U.S Dept of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis feeds (, filtered with key words, such as "housing starts."

Such a mashup will allow you to track connections between housing starts and unemployment in the construction industry.

How can you use this for educational purposes? It's easy to incorporate a feed that you enjoy, but which does not necessarily have educational merit. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Applications should align with the ultimate goals of the class, the outcomes, and the learning objectives.

2. Outcomes assessments should reflect the learning activities

3. Mashups and Web 2.0 applications should incorporate the performative aspects of the course.

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