I've sort of filed this one under "innocuous little email that one day may have a profound impact on my business".
This morning - because I'm on a mailing list - I received an email from Amazon Web Services. For those of you that don't know what a web service is, it is a tool that programmers can use to access information from someone else (over the web) on demand. We use Amazon's web services to access information from Amazon's database (like titles, and author names, and page counts etc.) so we can compare it to what is on our database.
The email I received this morning was a little different from the normally very geeky ones I get. It was announcing a beta-platform for a new service called Amazon CloudFront. With CloudFront, programmers can now ask for and retrieve "content" that is in Amazon's database, not just the structured information (mentioned above).
It's a little vague about what it means by content, but from what I can gather, it looks like images. That's cool by itself, but if you consider that when Amazon shows you pages of a book in their Search Inside the Book tool, and all of those pages are stored as individual images of a page, then this new little tool starts to have some very interesting implications.
I'm still not sure what it all means yet, but this much I do know: Amazon, Yahoo, and Google, are the three largest creators of web services. There is a whole group of individual programmers out there that do some very creative things with these services, by building what they call mashups. Mashups are little pieces of code that when "mashed together" create some very cool applications. In fact there is a whole group of these folks getting together right now at a conference (or better called an unconference) called MashupCamp, which is run by a friend of mine named David Berlind.
When Amazon first created their webservices, these mashup developers went crazy and built some really cool things. I can't wait to see what some of them will come up with.
We may have to get into the act ourselves.... as I said, this could have a profound impact on my company!