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Amazon Hacks For Fun and Money 249

An anonymous reader writes "There's a new BusinessWeek article looking at some of the cool hacks coming out of Amazon's open API and XML feed policy. Some nifty stuff - 27,000 developers have apparently signed up to build hacks on Amazon data. It seems '..most are only part-timers and hobbyists, but a growing number are serious programmers who seek to make a living selling products based on the data Amazon is offering on a silver platter.'"
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Amazon Hacks For Fun and Money

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:46PM (#6300021)
    They have already applied for the patent, but it won't be granted until 2012! Mike
  • by jimmyCarter ( 56088 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:50PM (#6300044) Journal
    I love how the industry first hypes and then later wonders where the surge in web services is.

    They still don't get it. You can't force an industry. It's usually the guys on the ground level making cool things with the technology that drive it's success.

    Becaus of this, the Amazon [] and Google [] services are going to be huge in driving the web services industry.
  • Re:Is it genius? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Only Druid ( 587299 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:52PM (#6300050)
    Part, I think, of the reason they weren't doing this before is the question of "name recognition" and their desire to build a brand.

    By first establishing themselves as a complete "product", i.e. "Amazon", people will now recognize these portal'd Amazon links as something new but still part of the Amazon-whole.

    If they had simply introduced this ability from the beginning, they risked other companies somehow taking advantage of it to make it appear as if the "store" was the secondary-site, as opposed to Amazon itself.
  • by Peter Cooper ( 660482 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:24AM (#6300191) Homepage Journal
    While Amazon allows (mostly) free and open access to its API and data, Google, on the other hand, limits everyone to 1000 queries a day.

    This means that coders who have tools that are based on Google results (say, some sort of link popularity checking tool) then have to either grab Google the regular way and try their darn best to pretend they're a regular visitor.. or get multiple API keys, which is against the T&Cs.

    Of course, I can see why Google is doing this, simply because there's no benefit for them if people just leech their results, but....
  • by saden1 ( 581102 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:31AM (#6300215)
    What is really even more sad is how incompetent the people at the USPTO are. There lot of competent software engineers out of work out there who should be hired by the buffoons that run the place. Maybe then will shit like one-click get rejected at the first glance.
  • by yintercept ( 517362 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:37AM (#6300232) Homepage Journal
    They've been doing this from the start with an open associate program. People have been able to link to books and get a commission since the 90s.

    The idea of product datafeeds isn't really that new either. You will find the hotel industry allowing datafeeds and other low level integration.

    Amazon is giving better quality lower level access to data than many others. But are not as many leagues ahead as the Business Week article seems to indicate.

    I guess I should mention the annoying thing. The people playing this amazon datafeed game are creating millions upon millions of web pages with different terms optimized for the search engines. The general result is a marked increase in the number of webpages to index, and a decrease in the quality of search engine results.
  • Actually... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dthoma ( 593797 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:43AM (#6300254) Journal
    ...speaking seriously, a rich pro-open-source organisation should patent that and then get it legally made public domain (if possible). At least then we know that a large corporation will actually patent that first.
  • by oaf357 ( 661305 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @01:49AM (#6300434) Homepage Journal
    The one problem I've seen with Amazon's affiliate program is that while it covers customization and can display ads based on keywords, those ads aren't very attractive. The best way to target your customers (I've seen) is through very subtle, individual item links. It's not too hard to manage but it's another thing on the list of stuff to check every week (out of stock, discontinued, etc.).

    This could easily solve that. Someone should be able to write a script that can display X number of items fitting these keywords and that listing can be totally customized and worked into your existing web pages quite well resulting in more sales for Amazon and a bigger referral check every quarter.

    I praise Amazon for doing this.

  • by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @01:56AM (#6300451) Homepage
    Because one has nothing to with the other. The number of references or the existence of prior art does not speak to the degree innovation or novelty. Any article in any modern scientific journal can easily have 20 or more references. Heck, a letter to the editor might have a dozen.

    Itâ(TM)s called acknowledging your sources. Letâ(TM)s say I come up with some new, innovative way to clone mammals that is 100% successful. Letâ(TM)s say I want to patent my new, innovative process. Letâ(TM)s say the first step of my process involves cleaning and sterilizing the apparatus is a way that has been documented previously. Rather than 1) restating a procedure that has already been documented, and 2) taking credit for someone elseâ(TM)s work, I would reference the original publication of the sterilization procedure. In the jargon of patents, that is prior art. And it in no way affects the patent-worthiness of my innovation.

    If someone devised a method of delivering food over the internet with TCP/IP, I bet that would be a good candidate for a patent. There doesnâ(TM)t seem to be any obvious way to transport physical food by TCP/IP. But part of the patent application would have to reference the prior existence of TCP/IP. Itâ(TM)s called prior art. Its existence does not automatically invalidate the patent.

    Seriously dude, everything you read on /. about patents and intellectual property is wrong. Including this post.
  • patent posts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Cowdog ( 154277 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @05:03AM (#6300887) Journal
    Most of the posts about Amazon's one-click patent should be moderated off-topic. Maybe this one too, but I'll risk that to make a point in favor of Amazon. It's really too bad Amazon got painted as bad guys for the one-click patent, even if that was a trivial and laughable patent.

    I advocate buying from Amazon to reward their giving so many features to end users. We take Amazon for granted now, but we should be thankful for their accomplishments. Amazon is chock full of cool features that might have existed in labs or in peoples imaginations, but weren't available for real users until Amazon put them out there: purchase circles, user reviews, multiple competing industry reviews, page previews, author interviews, people-who-bought-this-also-bought info, real-time best seller lists, real-time popularity indicators, wish lists, user-created theme lists, recommendation agents, used book stores/zshops, great searching and great sorting of results... all on the same site, in one place, easily navigable -- fantastic. Really, it's one thing to have an idea and hack it up for a few geek friends to use, it's another thing to put such a powerful toolset as Amazon is in the hands of millions of ordinary users. Not only does Amazon lead the industry, it really created online book selling the way it is today. If it were not for Amazon, the Barnes & Noble online site would probably look a lot like [], or worse maybe even B Dalton's web site. []

    Amazon rocks, and the APIs are just one more example of that.

  • by Captain Large Face ( 559804 ) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @05:48AM (#6300993) Homepage

    What is wrong with investigating a patent fully? If it isn't the job of the patent office, then under whose jurisdiction does it fall?

    You note that a patent can be challenged in court, and the fact that this process exists is a good thing, however, you also point out that this would "be very hard for small fish to do against [...] big powerhouse corporations", which flies against the spirit of fairness! Since the legal process is so obviously flawed in civil cases of this nature, the responsibility must pass to the institution that grants these patents in the first place, i.e. the USPTO. You correctly point out that it is not the fault of the patenting process, but that of the legal system. Should one just accept that though? Should the patent system be modified to address this shortcoming?

    Naturally, it would be unfair for the US tax-payer to front the charges for the profits of private enterprise, so what should be done? Forcing a charge on a per-patent basis would only harm the spirit of invention for individuals, which would be an awful tragedy.

    I get frustrated when witnessing large businesses patent "obvious" and otherwise-harmful ideas whilst those inventors with true commercial and innovative spirit are exploited for the simple reason that they lack the power to defend themselves.

    Time to dismount for the high-horse, me thinks. Sorry.. :)

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?