Let's take a step back into 1963 when J. C. R. Licklider published a memorandum for the Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network:
It seems to me to be interesting and important … to develop a capability for integrated network operation … Consider the situation in which several different centers are netted together, each center being highly individualistic and having its own special language and its own special way of doing things. Is it desirable, or even necessary for all centers to agree upon some language or, at least, upon some conventions for asking such questions as 'what language do you speak?'
- J. C. R. Licklider. Advanced Research Projects Agency Memorandum (source)
It's awesome to know that over 50 years ago the internet was being conceived before we had the color screen and web browser. The general consensus was to have computers speak a universal language understood by other computers, with the goal of being able to share computing power and information between separate entities.
That universal language standard today is HTML (HyperText Markup Language), which did not exist back in 1963. It became popular because it was easy to write and easy to read by both humans and machines. If a business has a website, then it is speaking HTML to the network. Search engines like Google and Yahoo specialize in reading HTML and indexing it into large databases for the general public to search on.
Because HTML became heavily purposed for design and consumption, another important standard emerged called RSS (Rich Site Summary OR Really Simple Syndication). The purpose of an RSS feed is to provide quick machine readable summaries of data. They are commonly associated with blogs, and since the format is strict, machines (applications) can read them very easily. We are not machines, so why do we care? When machines can easily consume content, they then can deliver it to consumer devices like mobile application or aggregate services. Some search engines also consume RSS for updates. Providing RSS feeds is a great first step to granting machines better access to business content.
Why does this matter for businesses, or anyone for that matter?
XML is similar to HTML, as it is a markup language, but it's purpose is to serve extensible data. JSON is another form of machine readable data, that is isn't very human friendly, but is more flexible, faster to download, and manipulate for very custom data structures.
The evolution of consumable data
Many software applications today allow for machines to request content by parameters (usernames, search keywords, categories, etc.), content is delivered in either XML or JSON format. This is known as a Web Service. Data from a Web Service is typically powers a software application like Twitter or Facebook. They are also used to connect third party application services like Salesforce or Mailchimp to business data. Both languages have been around over 15 years (JSON is newer), but they were only truly popularized in the mid 2000s when software as services became more common. The key thing to note is that XML or JSON as a service enables data to fuel mobile apps, dynamic web applications, TV screens, etc.
Traditionally, only software applications offer XML or JSON as a service. A business would need a developer to create a web service for their content. We at Zesty.io are upping the ante and giving businesses access to these services immediately through their website. Having services like these available opens up opportunities for business content to reach beyond the search engine into mobile applications or other connected web services.
How can this benefit a business?
Imagine turning an employee directory (which has to be kept up-to-date on a website) into a quickly searchable iOS app internally for employees. As well as that, the same content used to communicate to customers into an application used by a sales team. The opportunities are endless. The most important factor is same time a business spends updating their content serve on the web can be repurposed without much effort into truly usable data.
We all know how websites can be difficult to navigate, let's not pretend otherwise. Turning same web content into easily consumable web services is a way to empower both employees and customers like never before.
How Zesty.io can do this for your business:
Every set of content created on Zesty.io turns directly into an RSS feed, XML content files, and JSON web service. These communication vehicles can be used instantly by mobile applications, CRMs, or other services a business connects to. This happens before a website designed. Want to know how this can help your business? We can give you ideas, reach out to me at randy at zesty dot io and we can setup a time to chat.
Photograph of Arrays taken by John Fowler