Feb 11, 2007

Tubes and Pipes

by: in LEAP

Did you know that the Internet is a series of tubes? Senator Stevens thinks so. It's how the data moves around. Through tubes. Seriously.

Yahoo is building pipes. The pipes gather and filter data. Through pipes. Seriously. Sound familiar?

Yahoo's pipes are a bit different from tubes though. First, it's real. Second, smart people made it (as opposed to Mr. Tubes: Senator Stevens). The idea is that there are loads of data feeds (RSS feeds) out there carrying lots of information. The "lots of information" thing is the problem -- there is too much information that we need to sort through and put together in meaningful ways.

Pipes is interesting in another way as well: it has an amazing interface. Imagine a data-driven Visio. You drag a data block in, set some parameters, link it to a filter block, and before you know it you've tied the iTunes latest releases of your favorite band to the corresponding YouTube videos and delivered the list to your favorite news reader.

The interface is slick, but it's definitely technical and not for the un-savvy computer user. No one has yet to find a way to make RSS feeds more accessible, so it would be hard to expect a web application that organizes that data to be simplistic.

I wonder how Yahoo's pipes will work when Senator Stevens' Tubes get clogged. Maybe Google will release a tubes cleaning website. I think Drainle would be a catchy name, don't you?