I’ve read the little background material on Google’s Base and still can’t see whether the material you put there can be found by other search engines. I also cannot find evidence of an API that shares any standards for tags and structure. Is Base open or closed? So far, closed.
What we need instead is a means of letting you tag and structure your data so it can be found reliably by any search engine no matter where it is on the internet. That would stay true to the distributed internet Google has so masterfully exploited.
I wish I were hearing more noise from the microformats guys to act as competitors — or at least as pressure on Google for openness and standards.
Imagine if you could go to a page that lets you put in your resume or house ad or job ad and it spits out tagged XML you could put on the web anywhere to be found by anyone.
Or imagine putting tags on restaurant reviews you post on your blog so anyone could aggregate or search for, say, all the cuisine=mexican restaurants in location=chicago. Well, you don’t really have to imagine that. If you aggreed on the tags, you could start doing that today via Del.icio.us and Technorati.
And imagine if you could go to Google or other services — e.g., Indeed and SimplyHired for jobs or Baristanet for three Jersey towns — and see the tags they use so you can swarm around those tags and find and be found. That’s the openness we need. If Google spearheads that with a truly open API that can be adapted by the community, then great. That is our distributed marketplace. But if not, then Google is only trying to recreate the centralized marketplaces of old — otherwise known as newspapers. That worked for newspapers when they had monopolies. They don’t anymore. Does Google think it has a monopoly?
: Mark Pincus hopes Google is not trying to recreate Walmart. It’s a heartfelt, practically tear-wrenching ode to what Google coulda shoulda been:
my other big question is whether google is opening this service to the same crawling it has benefitted from to the tune of $108 billion? …
my take is google has chosen between two paths. one which i thought they were on was to be a platform to enable great things on the web. google could have powered everything with its search engine, ad infrastructure, massive crawling and computing power. it could have been a democratizing force, enabling small services to flourish in being found and in serving them a platform on which to innovate.
instead google has chosen to be merely another big corporate titan. like microsoft, it’s choosing to go for the gold, enriching their shareholders rather than enabling industries….
like msft, google is now going after every other oppty around it, taking advantage of its trojan horse position. suddenly every company is at risk. companies as far away as walmart have to have a ‘google strategy’. today, vc’s ask every new startup how they will compete with google. (at least we dont have to answer the msft question any more.) …
in fact, google feels a like walmart today. once the excitement over trying out their latest release wears off we are left with the realization that they are going to ultimately put the corner grocer (being craigslist) out of business, and suck value out of an economy not add back. …
one last thought to all those ‘web 2.0’ers’ listening. WHEN ARE WE ALL GOING TO WAKE UP AND REALIZE THAT NONE OF US COMPETE WITH EACH OTHER? WE ALL COMPETE WITH GOOGLE, MSFT AND YAHOO. the only chance we have of enabling an independent industry is to come together, leverage s resources, create and protect a level playing field. otherwise, we are all in the business of creating great products in the hope we can sell to them before they build it. how fucking boring is that?
Right. That is precisely why some of us are working on figuring out open ad marketplaces and why I wish the microformats guys were getting more
The answer to any monopoly — water to wicked witches everywhere — is openness.
: I’ve been meaning to link to this PC4Media post on microformats for months; now I have the excuse and the memory to do it:
MicroFormats Enable Distributed Applications!
Exactly. Microformats could be as big an innovation as databases were.
If databases let us store information. Microformats let us access the world’s databases. Potentially!
Yes, APIs do this too. But, microformats make the database (or data store) distributed. Not controlled by one entity.
This could be as big as “http”.
If you don’t get how microformats can change your business, prepare to be outdone.
: See also Fred Wilson on base.
: And see Umair Haque:
There’s only one question that matters, strategically: is Base the AOL-style walled garden of the 00s?
That is, are returns to info owned by Google going to be lower than decentralized info? …
What that means is that Google keeps indexing the world’s information, albeit at increasingly costly factor prices; while superior returns begin flowing to reconstructors and smart aggregators. This scenario devalues centralized mechanisms/walled gardens, like Base – because they’re not part of the attention ecosystem; they’re part of GoogleWorld (we really do need a name for all the info Google owns)….
But I think what it does do is begin to point to a growing vital point competitors can strike….
Then there’s Amazon, eBay, VCs, and media – all attention economy players, who seem totally intent on missing the tectonic shifts right under their feet, which are eroding all their returns.
The key question for any company today is: How do you play in the distributed world? How do you stop the 1.0 insistence of having to control and own and how do you instead make money by enabling others? That was where Google’s own gigantic growth was. But sometimes it’s hardest to learn the lessons you yourself teach.
Another, marginally related point – it also points to the uncooling of Google. I mean, Base? Can you get more Orwellian, lame, sinister, connected to all the wrong stuff?
EG: Al Qaeda means “the Base”.
See also: base instincts.
: SEE ALSO: The comments. Good notes there from ROR and SimpyHired.