Media Morph: Mash-ups

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WHAT IT IS: A mash-up is a combination of content, services or technology on two different Web sites. Two sites communicate with each other through application programming interfaces (APIs) that are open to the public.

PRECURSOR: From the music world, the term mash-up "describes the result of mixing together two or more records to create a whole new track," according to PaintingByNumbers.com/bootcamp.

WHO'S DOING IT: The site Smugmug.com, a subscription service for consumers to store and display their personal photos, provides a tool that uses Google Maps so that customers can plot the locations where their photos were snapped. "Our computers talk to Google's computers and make this wonderful mash-up," said Smugmug.com's co-founder, Chris Macaskill. One Smugmug.com customer, the Striking Viking, uses the service to show photos from his motorcycle trip around the world at striking-viking.smugmug.com.

WHERE THE GIRLS ARE: Freelance programmer Jeff Marshall, who posts his interests on the site Frozen Bear.com, wiled away a weekend plotting the location of people looking for hookups on the dating site HotOrNot.com. A couple of blogs chattered about it and Mr. Marshall's server was overloaded the first day. Delighted by the exposure, HotOrNot's system picked up the slack. Mr. Marshall's work can be seen at hotmaps.frozenbear.com.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Mash-ups are a popular manifestation of the consumer-centric culture, when the Web doesn't give consumers what they want, they create their own way of presenting and processing information. And a clear open space for advertising. Everybody gets exposure, and folks like Mr. Marshall, who accepts contextual sponsored links from Google AdSense gets a revenue source.

Media Morph is a new weekly feature looking at how traditional media companies are making use of new technology from cell phones to VOD, podcasting and more to distribute content-and how it's working.

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