Saturday, October 01, 2005


Whereas many of the new web 2.0 applications are rehashing desktop ones (although this is not meant to disrespect them in any way), YubNub is wonderfully fresh and new, yet at the same time harkens back to the early days of the black screen and white flashing cursor of the command prompt.

Many will claim "Oh, it's just like the such-and-such toolbar for the whatzit browser", but in fact it's not. It's a browser- and operating system-independent interface to anything and everything on the web. A site where anyone can create simple or powerful commands to squeeze and extract information from the web.

For example, typing "gg giant squid" performs a Google search for giant squids. Want to search for images instead? "yim giant squid" performs a Yahoo! search for giant squid images. Want to buy a giant squid from Amazon? Just type "amzn giant squid" (no promises that your purchase will be successful.)

But these simple examples are just the tip of the iceberg. You can combine multiple commands and use some simple programming control structures to create incredibly useful and powerful commands. Or incredibly silly ones, it's up to you. YubNub is a social command line, which means that anyone can create commands, and anyone can use anyone else's commands.

Here's an example of a more complex command (which I have yet to create, but will soon.) At movie rental shops, I often see an unfamiliar movie on the rack which looks interesting. However, I've rented rotten interesting-looking movies in the past. I can use my cellphone to access IMDb and browse to the movie's page and check out its rating - but this would use up a lot of bytes, hence money. I'm only interested in one number - the rating (or maybe two, the rating and the number of people who have voted.) In any case, here's what I can do. Create a command which searches for a movie on IMDb and "scrapes" its IMDb title id number. Create another command which goes directly to a movie's page by referencing this id number. Create a third command which scrapes the rating from a movie's main page. By linking these three commands together I create one command (which I could call "imdbr") which takes as input the title of a movie, and which outputs a number, the movie's IMDb rating. At the rental shop, I access on my cellphone, type "imdbr Beany and Cecil Meet Billy the Squid" (yes, this is a real movie title) and in a few moments I see (if I'm lucky) a number greater than 7, in which case I head to the counter.

In just a short time, YubNub has grown incredibly quickly, and has the potential to turn into something enormous. I use it many, many times, every single day. I've actually stopped thinking about it. It's become like breathing.

What's more incredible is that YubNub is the result of my friend Jonathan Aquino's entry into a 24-hour programming contest. YubNub fared very well and was awarded second place. Soon after, heads began to turn in the tech world, and Jonathan was promptly invited to Foo Camp.

YubNub - no longer just an Ewok exclamation.

1 comment:

reifenup said...

Your site is very useful.