Any ideas for quick API "mashups"?

Next week I’m going to be teaching second-year design students at Goldsmiths how to make stuff on, and with, the web. A speedy whirl through the basics HTML, CSS and JavaScript in four days.

On the final day I plan to have us make something using APIs from various services, to show what can be achieved by combining data. A “mashup”, as it might once have been called. And I’m looking for good ideas.

When ntlk taught this in 2012 they fetched some Tweets and then photos from Flickr for each word in the Tweets. Since then the Twitter API has become a bit trickier to work with, probably too much to use for one packed day.

So I’m looking for alternative fun projects and wondered if anyone reading this has ideas. I’m hoping to make something that:

  • is written in JavaScript;
  • uses the APIs of two or more services to make a single “thing”;
  • only uses APIs that require a single key (or no key); no OAuth, secrets, etc;
  • is as simple to code as possible;
  • and best shows the power some simple code can have.

For example, last night I whipped up this code which gives the user a form to enter the name of a place. The JavaScript fetches a list of music artists from that place using The Echo Nest, geocodes the place using Google Maps and displays a map, then shows Flickr photos from within the bounding box of that place.

It could be the start of an “interesting things from this place” page. It’s very quick, very ugly, and full of places it will break; definitely not production-ready. But I’m trying to do as much as possible, as simply and quickly as possible. It’s OK, but I feel there must be something more exciting!

Any ideas? I’m only after ideas, not working code. There’s a list of mostly suitable APIs here in case that sparks any thoughts.

Throw things at @philgyford or by email. I’ll share all good ideas here. Thanks.

UPDATE: Here are all the suggestions.

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12 Oct 2015 at Twitter

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