Content Based Integration – Upcoming IT Revolution

| May 29, 2007

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As I have mentioned frequently on this site, I have been actively researching, developing and delivering a new approach to solving some of the common problems in running business. We have given the name Boomerang to this technology, and it revolves around the notion of what is coming to be known as “Content Based Integration”, a new twist on time proven approaches that have been around for over a decade. Many of you have seen an example of this approach in action: my own Hardtack application all the way to Google News use this new technique. Lets take a closer look at this coming revolution and what it means.

What is Content Based Integration?

Boomerang is a system for enabling enterprise use of “Content Based Integration”. Content is the name for what makes the World Wide Web tick – information in human and machine readable form. For the most part one can think of content as a coherent set of written or illustrative information on a specific subject. When you look at a web site like, you see a wide set of small frames of information – each one of them have words and pictures in them – each one of those frames holds content. Content conveys information along with tags and attributes that describe what it represents and how things relate.

Many IT experts suspect the next big wave of revolution in systems will come from the ability to allow users to subscribe to content on subjects that matter to their work or their interests, and use dynamic web based and desktop systems to assemble this content for them. Think of it as a newspaper that re-publishes itself several times an hour, but only contains the things you want, and are interested in. Another term for this is “Mashups“, a term that I think strips some of the meaning of what really should be going on.

You can see early efforts to master this new techniques in products such as Yahoo Pipes, IBM QEDWIKI, and others. The persistent theme behind these examples is that they try very hard to piece something useful and relevant together from whatever they can scavenge from the broader internet. For these current first generation of tools all of the engineering focus went into how to build a wizzy, glittering front end that contained all of the fancy, next-gen Web 2.0 (TM) features on full display.

Sadly for them, once you build these wonderful front end manipulation tools, you are left to discover you don’t have much to put in there. Let’s face it, there are only so many ways you can glue Youtube, Google Maps and Amazon together. Moreover there are very few (if any) corporations that will find this kind of Mashup compelling enough to spend money on.

The real key is – how do you build a platform that can quickly and easily go from mountains of enterprise data into a steady, rich stream of enterprise content. Content that is formed and tagged, ready for infusion into these emerging Mashup tools. Crossing this gap is where Boomerang fits in

Hardtack as a Boomerang Application

Many visitors to this site have also taken a look at Hardtack. It’s a fun application, but it is also a grand example of how this next generation system works. Data from MLS systems are fed into the Boomerang Feedkit, and transformed into content. That content is tagged based on what zip code it covers, what kind of product it represents, what price point it falls into and when it was sampled. Collections of related zip code content can be fused into towns, towns into cities, then into states and on up to the national level. Product types can be sorted out, price points can be filtered and the content can be aligned and aggregated any way there is a need for it.

When you access the web site, you are really taking different views on the same multi-dimensional set of content data, though you would probably never know unless you read this article.

In our plans for later this year – to allow access to the content in a raw form – either via RSS or XML. This will allow more folks new ways to pipe the content we are keeping to ourselves for now into these next generation Mashup systems. I can’t wait to see the results.

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Category: Commentary, Information Technology, Main

About the Author ()

Bruce Henderson is a former Marine who focuses custom data mining and visualization technologies on the economy and other disasters.

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