Harper Reed: "The power is not the mashup. It's the data."
My brother Dan O'Neil is a data nut, which of course is a key job requirement for the co-founder of EveryBlock. (Dan also is creator of CTA Alerts and CTA Tweets.) So Dan found a kindred spirit in Harper Reed, and wrote at his Derivative Works site about how Harper parsed the data being slung about via the CTA Bus Tracker:
When most people go to the CTA Bus Tracker Web site and click on Estimated Arrival Times or the Bus Location Map, they see a way to find out when their next bus might get to the stop near them. Another nifty map mashup they can use to plot their trips daily.
When Harper Reed saw the same Web site last year, he saw every bus, everywhere, forevermore. And he wanted that data. "The power is not the mashup. It's the data. The data is the answer," says Harper.
So he set out to separate the data from the mashup. He used Firebug, the nifty Firefox add-on, to monitor that network traffic (the communication that goes between the browser window and the server) that was driving the data to the page. This way, he found the URLs of the "endpoints" -- a fancy word for URLs with special codes inside them -- that control the entire Bus Tracker system.
Read the rest of this fascinating post.
All hail Dan and Harper.