During some downtime here, I’ve been passively thinking up projects to occupy my time. Yesterday, I wondered whether there was a web app to properly track films I’ve watched, books I’ve read, etc. Specifically, I want to make a WordPress plugin for storing the history of each film I’ve watched ala the film log link at the top of this page, which is now a flat page I manually update. So I would like a web app where I can just enter a date and movie name where the system would handle retrieving the movie poster, Amazon link, and IMDB link with any meta info that is configured to display.

So then I started thinking where you could go with that if it was on a larger scale with more users. The resulting data set would allow accumulation reports ala Last.FM, but for movies. Keep track of the trends for most popular directors, genres, etc. while allowing tagable items with blog entries from individual users. The big limit here is attaining that userbase since input is not as simple as Last.FM, which just requires a plugin for your PC audio player of choice (with limited support for older iPods).

I admit the use of such a system is a novelty, but my original idea should be easy to implement given the set out requirements. Not according to IMDB. There have no public API to speak of. Instead: flat files. Seriously? Their EULA states no screen scrapers are allowed however I found a series of user-made APIs that provide limited data (that are at the whim of IMDB redesigns):

Blog posts dating back to 2005 and 2006 indicate Amazon (the owners of IMDB) have been planning on delivering an API. Way to be on the ball, guys. Hundreds of startups have begun from scratch and delivered public platforms while your thumbs twiddle. The situation now allows people to get more access to the closed-systems, at a price. Maybe there’s a resistance to public APIs due to the bandwidth bills that won’t necessarily translate into advertising dollars. But isn’t that the whole reason businesses like Yahoo are going public? “Web 2.0 ecology” (I cringe while typing this) and all that allow mash-ups from open platforms to create cool applications and bring brand awareness.

The IMDB job postings indicate an API is in the works, but I guess my idea will just lay to waste until it comes around. Maybe, for now, we can just tracking our movie history by adding them individually to Google Calendar and tagged them as “film watched”. That isn’t as cute.