Pipes is a hosted service that lets you remix feeds and create new data mashups in a visual programming environment. The name of the service pays tribute to Unix pipes, which let programmers do astonishingly clever things by making it easy to chain simple utilities together on the command line.
Don’t worry, if that doesn’t make any sense, you’re not alone, it’s not going to make any sense to 99.99999% of people, mostly because it’s Web 2.0 gibberish. So what is Pipes?
In laymens terms, it’s Microsoft Access 95 meets Web 2.0, but instead of using your own data, you rip data from other places, such as RSS feeds, and you query that. OK so that’s not much clearer. Everyone knows how a spam blog works, right? They rip data from RSS feeds. Pipes lets you rip data from RSS feeds. But instead of just posting out the data from the feeds, Pipes allows you to do things with the feeds, such as queries (ala Google), say you pulled an ebay feed and only wanted a list of all the hats for sale on ebay, you’d use Pipes to rip the feed, process it and output a new feed with a list of hats on ebay. But it gets better. If you’re really bored and with nothing else to do, you can use the hat data and match it with pictures of similar hats on Flickr, say if a Fedora Hat was for sale on ebay, Pipes lets you create a new feed of the hats for sale on ebay with matching pictures from Flickr of the same sort of hats. Yep, Pipes is good for hats, 100% guaranteed! :-)
For my own personal use, it’s taken me back to 1997, when I was studying Information Systems and did a semester on SQL and databases. Pipes looks and feels just like Access 95 did. I didn’t really like SQL then (I passed, just) and I don’t like query boxes and what not now. Little doubt that people will find a use for this, indeed I can’t help but think of the amazing opportunities the service will provide to spam bloggers world wide, me?, maybe another day.