Life on the web is full of search terms and human filtering. Even good results often require some effort to determine which has the information we seek. There are several services attempting to help with this problem and they’re making their applications available via API.
The internet is the perfect medium for matching supply with demand. You can find your next freelance job or, as Craigslist has been singled out for, find just about anything else (if you know the right euphemisms). Now, with Data Marketplace, you can request or provide datasets covering anything you can think of.
Microsoft is one of the first–and certainly the largest of–customers of Wolfram Alpha’s commercial API (our Wolfram|Alpha API profile). For math and nutritional searches, Microsoft’s Bing now uses Wolfram results.
Structured data has an open platform, thanks to a new startup aptly named Factual. At first glance, it seems like Excel on the web. However, Factual is more database-oriented, with joining and filtering built-in. Plus, sharing and discussing the data is an integral part of the experience. Most functions on the site, including both reading and writing data, can also happen via the Factual API.
Wolfram Alpha, the up-and-coming “answer engine” that we reported on back in May, has just released an API that developers have been awaiting since this spring. The new RESTful API provides access to the vast stores of data and computational knowledge available through the Wolfram Alpha project (technical details at our Wolfram Alpha API profile).
While Google leads the way in web search and Yahoo leads the way in answers, many upstart services are attempting to help you make decisions by giving you smarter answers to your questions. Microsoft has billed its new search offering Bing as both a “decision engine” and an “answer engine.” Now there’s Hunch, a new start-up founded by Flickr’s Caterina Fake, which also aims to be a decision engine, but using a very different model. By first asking the user questions ranging from food preferences to pet peeves, Hunch tries to provide answers to questions that best match the user’s interests based on crowdsourced data collected from other users.
As far as web search tools go, few have generated as much hype as Wolfram Alpha. The service, which bills itself as a “computational knowledge engine,” differs from search engines such as Google, in that it does not return lists of web pages. Rather, Wolfram Alpha attempts to calculate answers to user queries. For example, a query of “los angeles county median household income” will return the result “$43,518.”
Here are 9 new APIs just added to our API directory. A couple that we covered earlier this week came from the big name API providers via Google’s new Maps Data API and Yahoo launching the Placemaker API. Also in the headlines is our new entry for the Wolfram Alpha API. Other interesting new directory entries include the TweetShrink API for helping shrink those just-too-long twitter tweets, the UK Civil Service API for finding UK civil service jobs, and the Tinysong API for find where a song is available for streaming online. More on all 9 interesting new APIs below:
This week saw the widest range of APIs being used to develop mashups we’ve seen in awhile: 42 different APIs used in 7 days. Of those new apps added to our mashup directory, only a handful were map mashups, whereas most of them used more unique APIs: Google Chart API, indeed API, Livekick API, MTV API, NPR API, Tagalus API, TwitPic API, uClassify API, Vimeo API, and the Yelp API. Also, given that within the last 24 hours the highly anticipated Wolfram|Alpha search engine and structured reference went live, we did happen to see a number of semantic and linked-data APIs used this week: Reuters Calais API, DBpedia API, and Freebase API (and we’ve just added a profile for the Wolfram|Alpha API). The list below shows which APIs were used by which mashups: