Yahoo! Pipes

By dabilendabilen (1260172866|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

yahoo-pipes.jpg

Definition

Yahoo! Pipes is a unique web tool that offers a mixture of a custom search engine and custom RSS feed reader in an interactive way that is intuitive after slight training. This mixture of explanations may seem contradicting, but after spending a few minutes fooling around with the site the truth becomes clear.

Function

This tool serves as a good way to get a real-time concentrated search, tailored to the users liking. Yahoo! Pipes revolves around the idea of users creating "pipes" which are essentially customized streams of information. When creating a pipe users can pick what sites to pull information from, then filter what type of information will or will not be screened. From there users have many more customization options available and it is up to the user to further utilize them or not.

In the end the customized search engine is published to a feed so that the user can see the information being pulled from the designated sites, or share the feed with friends.

Analysis

In order to assess the value of Yahoo! Pipes I will evaluate the tool on three criteria that I see as integrally important: Usability, Integration, and Creativity.

Usability

Simply looking at the tool the way to approach it does not exactly pop out at you, but luckily plenty of resources, such as the video below, are available to jump over this information gap. This short video will walk through the steps necessary to start "piping"


After the brief lessons, users should have all the tools necessary to be unleashed. There is no better experience than trial & error, I personally found this part of the process to be fun as you play with a fun interface to build your own useful tools.

Usability for the tool is strong. The ability to make research fun is important and the generally intuitive set-up makes you efficient.

Integration

Once a pipe is built it is ready to be run. This is essentially the final output where the feed is built and users have the option to publish their pipe for others to see or to put the output into another site, such as a blog or wiki.
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As highlighted in the above screenshot, Yahoo Pipes has the feature to publish to not only a Yahoo reader but a Google one as well, in addition to a few others. Additionally, simple options, such as sharing on other social networking sites, makes this a tool that can be easily spread and utilized by large groups.

Overall, this tool is set up very nice to be easily taken advantage of. This is a product of the integration options that are offered.

Creativity

With the interactive Pipes builder, Yahoo Pipes has really nailed the creativity criterion in this analysis. The offerings to customize one's own pipes makes this an very powerful tool that can meet a variety of needs, making a great tool to keep up to date with movie reviews on the weekend, and keep your competitive advantage on water cooler conversation topics in the morning.

Also, since pipes can be made publicly searchable, users can feed off of the creativity or innovation of other pre-existing pipes. Creative abrasion really comes into full effect here. I was able to find a few pipes that dealt with energy or solar energy directly, and then add additional criterion to make it more appropriate for my usage.
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Here is a pipe that I was able to take from another user and customize to more appropriately meet my needs.

Application

I found this tool helpful when initially getting high level information as it can source a lot of information from a lot of websites in real-time. Once I found interesting articles or content I am then able to use that information and plug it into other tools to get even more specific information.

That said, Yahoo Pipes is limited in its ability to cater to specific short-lived requests. For those quick inquiries Yahoo Pipes is not as appropriate, since you would have to build a new pipe just to answer one quick question.

Miscellaneous

This is hands down one of the most fun tools I have come across simply due to the fun interface where you get to build virtual maps that result in strong tools that can help you better seek out information on the web. If only Google had a similar tool…

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