Speaking of Wesabe and their Firefox Toolbar, one of the other benefits of the add-on is that it allows you to automate the uploading of bank exports if the bank allows downloading of Money/Quicken files even if they don’t support automatic downloads. There’s a recent article on O’reilly Radar about some of the benefits of having an API to your financial information that may be useful elsewhere. A quick overview:
- There's potential in allowing people access to data that would normally be locked in a silo. Your helping them free it from the silo by automatic uploading to your site and then offering an API. How long before a LibraryThing toolbar helps patrons get their checkout history, ratings and the like out of various OPACs? The thing that bothers me about many of the ILS versions coming out offering ratings, reviews, etc is that there doesn't seem to be an easy way for patrons to use the information they input.
- Using data for user impowerment instead of the opposite. Usually some transactions are reported to the credit bureau for rating consumers. Now consumers aggregately rate the vendors based on the transactions.
- The API matters more then the site. Letting people use their data in a meaningful way is the point of the site, not the site itself. Should the focus of libraries be more about helping people find and enjoy information or getting page hits. I've had quite a few talks with patrons who would prefer to check things through rss, external sites or applications in their menu bar/taskbar then go to the website for everything.
- By using a free application the person can configure there's no need for external partnerships to get data moved around.