Bill Burnham has a good post about Google Base, insisting that it will change the world, or at least part of it. He says it’s all about RSS feeds into a gigantic XML data base that will extrude all kinds of neat new sausages. I await Part II.

Meanwhile, Olivier Travers says that surely Google will open up Base:

…it’s very early to make a call about Google’s intent. I’d say they want to give themselves a headstart in terms of surfacing Google Base content across their services (e.g. Local) but they’ll probably expose it to the outside world sooner or later. Not doing it seems not only at odds with their roots but more importantly it would leave them vulnerable to a more open joint effort by Microsoft and Yahoo, not to speak of countless smaller competitors.

My issue is: Why not open it up now? Why not publish the data format and API? Why not let us in on their intention? Instead, by playing the mysterious hard-to-get game, Google is mimicking Microsoft, the borg: You’ll do what we say because we say so. Once again, Google has succeeded thanks to the very openness of the internet. It should be open, in turn.

  • Tried to use Google Base, was unable to because apparently it was set up by fussbudgets with no talent for explaining things. An error page explaining what you did wrong would be nice. But we’re talking about script monkeys who believe everybody else knows what they know without having to be told.

  • Tony

    “Not doing it seems not only at odds with their roots”

    Statements like this assume that Google is the same company it was when started by the PhD dropouts in 1998 – now it has shareholders it needs to satisfy, and keeping things proprietary will always be better for the bottom line…

  • Jeff:

    Someone may have pointed this out already, but it’s Bill Burnham. You said Brad. You’re right about it being a good post though — I think he’s right.

  • Robert

    The problem with many of these developments is that their intention seems to be to remove content from its original location as much as possible.

    This started with images. With some search engines presenting ‘thumbnails’ that were only slightly smaller than the original image. Once this is the case, there is no need for the surfer to visit the original site to view the image.

    The same applies to videos in FireAnt. Where are the URLs back to the site where the video came from? It seems that every effort is made to prevent the surfer from visiting the original site. This is pretty much ‘hotlinking’, which used to be frowned upon with images but apparently is OK now. In fact, with videos it is even worse due to the huge amount of bandwidth they consume. It is also very difficult to prevent hotlinking to videos through htaccess etc.

    If you are creating content for free, then it doesn’t matter, as you are only concerned with maximum distribution and as many people seeing your content as possible. However, if you are trying to earn a living, then your opportunities for making money are limited. You can put ads on your site pages. Currently there is pretty much no way to earn from an image or video that is deliberately separated (‘hot-linked’) from your site.

    No site visits and no ad income = no money to pay the bills or live on, no site anymore and no more content…

    The bottom line is that companies such as Google and FireAnt aim to be the ones who profit from content, rather than the original creator. They make the money from my content and I don’t.

    I have a huge amount of high-quality written content, photographs and video material that I could put on the web. But it is my livelihood and pension for the future and the monetary return is not there.

    If Google is going to catalogue my content and then regurgitate it, with the minimum amount of reference to my website — which is my only means of earning from that content, then there is no point me making it available. And, what with the danger of content being stolen and shared, I am really better off keeping it all under lock in key in the hope that sometime in the future there will be a better opportunity.

  • Patrick

    It is hard to take Google Base seriously because it seems like many innocuous searches turn up porn sites. Google Base is still inflated hype at this point. Good luck cleaning up the porn.

  • Amen-preach it Brother Jeff.

  • Robert

    Maybe Google aims to completely turn everything on its head? Currently people come to my website and a small percentage click on an ad — possible an Google Adsense ad.

    Maybe in the future people will just go to Google, which will present them with a content rich page. Text taken from one site, images from another site and a video clip from another and there will be tiny links back to the originating sites which hardly anyone clicks on, because they get most of what they need from the composite page at Google?

    It seems to me this is the way things are going.

  • Marina Architect

    Google needs to set up an database/feed out type system. Having been a Google supporter, they are dropping the ball bigtime recently on user experience and quality products despite GOOG’s equity performance.

    Yahoo Mail Beta blows GMail and blows GoogleBase. Google Talk works but SkypeOut is better. Is Google a search only company. Where’s Google Finance?

    Did everyone read the recent I, Cringely article.

  • ROR

    Aside from the fact that Google Base looks strikingly similar to ROR, we think these kinds of services and formats will change the face of the Internet, especially now that Google is embracing the concept. Finally the Internet is no longer just about text and searching for keywords, it is now also about data and meaning, and searching for complex information. See also the March 3rd issue of the AddMe Newsletter: Help Search Engines Get Smarter!

    But there is also a big philosophical difference between Google Base and ROR. Unlike ROR, Google will not share that huge amount of data with the rest of the Web (search engines, applications, etc); Google wants you to submit it directly to them, they’ll even host your data for free, if needed. It’s as if the only way to submit a website to Google was to upload all the pages stored on your computer, instead of just submitting the URL. This 180-degree turn is alarming to say the least, especially coming from Google. Could this approach mean that soon searching Google will really mean, well, searching Google Base, not the Internet? Hmmm!


  • Jim S

    Well, one good reason to not open it up now is that it is still in early beta.

  • I’d like to see Google get into financial services. Peer to peer banking would be a good start. It might eventually be a good idea to get the currency monopoly out of the hands of the Fed too. Blue google bucks not subject to artificial inflation would be nice, unless you just paid $700,000 for a 1 bedroom condo.

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