I don’t know why, but when I saw a post about the New York Times — known for decades as The Grey Lady — working on releasing an open API, I couldn’t help but picture an elderly woman in an evening gown trying to break-dance. That aside, however, I think it’s great that the Times is going to set its data free. Epeus Epigone says it would be better if the paper adopted open standards rather than just releasing an API, but it’s a whole lot better than nothing.
It will be interesting to see what kinds of mashups programmers will be able to come up with using maps, or images, or other services. It reminds me of the experiments that the Washington Post conducted a few years ago as part of a project called Mashington Post (a great name) or what became known as Post Remix. That was mostly aimed at different interfaces to the news, including a tag cloud, but it was still pretty cool — but just as it got going the paper seemed to lose interest and as far as I can tell none of the ideas went anywhere.
Part of me is also eager to see whether the Times can stick to its guns once the data free-for-all begins, or whether it will try to clamp down on what can be done with its API.