Tokyo Art Beat: now with an API!

As a way to celebrate the upcoming 4th birthday of Tokyo Art Beat, on October 4th, we decided to give away TAB’s most fiercely guarded secret.
Ready? Here it goes: all we are doing is setting information free.

In Spotlight TAB TAB News by Olivier Thereaux 2008-08-27

When the Tokyo site started, we were merely a group of enthusiastic art and design lovers wishing for a reliable source of information, unhindered by the arbitrary taste and whim of editors and “experts”.
Neither was information hard to get – the address of a given museum is no state secret, and galleries will gladly send around their schedule to whomever is interested -, nor were we the first site to gather and broadcast information. If anything, we were just insane enough to believe we could hoard and re-broadcast everything, and translate it too. And on top of that, we wanted to make it really easy for us, TAB’s first batch of users, to browse, find or stumble on that information.

That was, and still is, the main added value of the ArtBeat sites: teach good information new tricks; help it entice new audiences, which the art world seldom talks to. A simple and comprehensive web site for the hardcore AND the curious crowds, with translations to open the Tokyo scene to the world.
Then, mail alerts for the forgetful, blog widgets and RSS feeds for the bloggers and the tech savvy, even a mobile site for Tokyoites on the go. And for those with a taste for more than raw info, we started the bilingual TABlog

What next? You decide!

We just opened the Tokyo Art Beat API, which, as any geek will know, stands for Application programming interface. What it means is actually the important part: it means that Tokyo Art Beat is now opening its event data, in a well documented format, for anyone with decent programming skills to use and build upon. In other words, this time we are setting our data free, free for people to share and broadcast to more places and in more ways than we could imagine. The API includes not only all the signature Art Beat event smart lists in a format suitable for hacking, mashups and new applications, but also a brand new geolocated search application: give it a location anywhere in the city, a couple of parameter and voilà! Sweet and shiny event data you can feed to your mashups and web apps.

So mash early and mash often: check out the API documentation, join the discussion group for tips, announces and feedback. Then start hacking… Show us what you can build with TAB’s data. Or, if you are a seasoned traveler or couch cosmopolitan, you may also like the fact that TAB’s sister site NYArtBeat has an API, too.

Oh, and did we mention this magic mashup of yours could make you rich? TAB is one of the APIs of the 4th Mashup Awards contest running for another few weeks until the 16th of September.

Good luck, have fun, and make Tokyo a more beautiful and creative city in the process!

Update: a few apps and websites have already surfaced that make use of the TAB API…
* Tokyo Arts Events Information
* Search for nearby events from your keitai: 携帯Art Map
* Tokyo Art Island (click on the map)
* 駅’si VISION
* Tokyo Art Life
* a flyer collection site
* a simple and practical iPhone site. And another one!
* Binbo Date (“cheap dates”) which locates nearby art exhibitions (especially the free ones) and bars etc as cheap date spots.
* a Windows Explorer plugin

Olivier Thereaux

Olivier Thereaux. Born in France some time in the last century. After graduating in management and studies of “that internet thing”, olivier spent a decade trying to make the Web a better place. When he's not blowing all his money on plane tickets between Tokyo, Paris and Montreal, olivier acts as house geek for the ArtBeat sites. » See other writings

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