Want a clear, concise overview of the state of the art in internet groupware, discussion systems, future plans for same, why XML is good for the web, what Microsoft is on about with .NET, some snippets of Tim B-L's "Semantic Web", etc. etc. etc.? Then print out and read Jon Udell's report for Software Carpentry on the subject. It's very good.
In it he foresees an XML- and internet-based infrastructure for connecting services, "analogous to the UNIX pipeline".
I've been kinda doing this myself by repurposing other people's websites using scripts which talk HTTP, and pretend to be "normal people" browsing -- viz. sitescooper and send-sms-message. But it would be a lot nicer if those sites allowed us to use a clean, well-defined, open interface instead.
The only problem I can see is, how is it worth their while? ie. they cannot display ads in the (machine-readable) XML returned. Micropayments again??
The other question is this -- what's wrong with the UNIX pipeline?? In other words, why isn't there a set of command-line XML manipulation tools for UNIX? As Dan Lyke said:
Wouldn't it be cool to be able to do gzip -dp phonelist.gnumeric | xmlsearch "select phonenumber, longdistanceprice from phonelist.person.work" | xmlsort "person.longdistanceprice"?
Someone else here talked about this concept too, a week or 2 back. Go for it mate, they'll be dead handy tools right now, and everybody'll be thanking you in a year's time...