I started using Forecastfox some time ago and absolutely love it. It’s a little Firefox extension that shows the current and forecast weather conditions wherever you wish in the browser. Until the latest version, the weather data came from Weather.com but now — oh joy of joys! — it’s being drawn from Accuweather.com which includes “RealFeel”: what the temperature feels like rather than its empirical measure. The creators of Forecastfox made the switch because Accuweather opened up its system with a new API that allows almost endless mining of their weather data.
This is important because it shows that, as well as being cause for lots of nerding around on the desktop for tweak-freaks like me, when companies open up the gateway to their crown jewels, smart people will find interesting new ways to use the data and drive more business your way. The BBC’s Backstage project recently did something similar in opening an API for all of the Beeb’s TV listings. The idea is for anyone on Earth to take that data and create new applications and communities around it. This kind of innovation is rife right now (witness Flickr.com!) and Wired has a great article on it this month, too (though it’s not online yet, though, ironically).