Monday, August 28, 2006

Drupal mashups, internet cafes and Korean food

After coming back home from Manchester last Friday I was just relaxing and checking out what tabs were still open in my laptop's browser from my recent browsing while in Manchester. In one of the tabs I chanced on a Drupal drop in a mile away from home. Drupal is something I've been meaning to check out ever since I discovered that SocialText, a corporate wiki, is powered by Drupal.

It was only 10, and the drop in ended at 11.30. So I hotfooted over to the Be The Reds internet cafe. A little bit of history, the particular cafe was the first internet cafe, Cyberia, established by Eve Pascoe on 1 September, 1994. The subsequent Cyberia chain was sold to Koreans and re-branded Be The Reds -- the support-chant for the Korean national football (soccer) team. I'd been to the original cafe a few times, and even talked about presenting courses in their space, hadn't visited since it became Be The Reds. Time for a visit, and I ended up finding the drop in group in the basement bar/cafeteria.

Robert Castelo, a Drupal developer and drop in organiser ended up chatting to me (thanks) and mentioned the ease of constructing mashups in Drupal, refering me to Zack Rosen 's ten minute mashup of San Fransisco crimes and Google Maps. Here's a shot from the video:

Interesting stuff. I notice however that the source material is coming from a file and not from a web source. Thus this can not be considered a true mashup in the sense of "A mashup is a website or Web 2.0 application that uses content from more than one source to create a completely new service." [from Wikipedia entry] I need to find out if one could import live from a service or feed. I've sent off a few queries, so I'll add an update to this post.
Update from Robert Castelo by email 28 Aug 06 to the effect of: Not yet but coming soon, work that will allow this is here and, possibly, here.

Conclusion: For Now this provides a handy Google Maps mashup technique for anyone working with relative static file based data.
And as for Be The Reds, well I think it has potential: Beer, and apparently good food, but no internet connections downstairs. Having neither Korean nor any really adventurous eaters in the Drupal group, no one from the group had yet summoned up enough courage to try the chicken intestines. They are looking for a volunteer, so if you live in London, are interested in Drupal and eat chicken intestines, they want feedback on the dish. And I presume that they don't want technicolour feedback! Their regular drop in is on the last Friday of the month.

I like other Korean dishes, so I may be back to try the chicken intestines. Hey, I've never eaten frogs legs, chicken or duck feet, or chicken intestines -- time to get a life!

PLE notes

Here my browser is my PLE, and I am maintaining URL-based context by being able to suspend operations in Manchester (simply shutting my laptop) and resuming them in London (opening my laptop), using precisely the same open tabs.

This brings me back to an idea I had in the development of the Manchester Framework, a now-abandoned project for a relatively heavyweight web-connected desktop PLE: The user should be able to return to his or her previous learning context each time s/he restarted the PLE. This would be an admirable property for any PLE, avoiding the breakdown (Winograd and Flores, 1990) experienced by users when confronted with systems where context has to be manually restored.

I first encountered this marvelous idea when I worked in Smalltalk, and used the wonderful Smalltalk environment which saved its state on shutting down, restoring the state on the subsequent startup.


T. Winograd and F. Flores. Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design. Addison-Wesley, 1990.


Anonymous Jonas M Luster said...

Small correction. The Socialtext homepage is powered by Drupal (the best CMS out there, no doubt), but the Socialtext application (which is Open Source as well, see is written in Perl and not an extension of Drupal. Though we're working on mashing them together :)

Mon Aug 28, 11:24:00 PM GMT+1  

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