New, Improved Web

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Roll Your Own Service

You say you don't like the way that Craigslist, Flickr, or Google Maps functions? Just change how each presents its data, or combine the information on one site with that on another. ProgrammableWeb lists over 200 mashups, including a Google Map of Hindu temples, a Flickr screen saver, and a matchmaking tool for the dating service that turns you into a virtual yenta.

Creating a mashup requires a solid understanding of JavaScript (Wikipedia offers a good starting point). While it's no replacement for actual programming skills, Ning (still in beta as we went to press) lets you set up your own classified listing, photo sharing, review, or social-networking site without writing a line of code.

You can modify one of the thousands of existing applications on the site and have a slick program of your own devising running in minutes. Ning even hosts the site, posting ads alongside your application in exchange. If you're feeling geeky, the service lets you alter the application's underlying PHP code.

Contributing Editor Scott Spanbauer writes the Internet Tips column.
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