Posts about google

Borgle

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.

Google Base v. microformats

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 ink pixels.

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.

Umair adds:

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.

The price of thought

The WSJ reports that Google is toying with the idea of renting books that can be read, not downloaded or printed, over a week. They say Google would charge 10 percent of the cover price. Thus, they believe that the ideas and thought are worth one tenth the paper, distribution, and retail markup. And, of course, not all that would go to the guy who had the thought; she’d get a fraction left over after publishers, agents, and Google itself. Content is devalued yet further. [via Paid Content]

But is it open?

Rafat has a few more details or prognostications about Google Base and the latest, a patent for Google Automat:

Automat creates a contextual ad identical in appearance to Google AdWords, which now run down the right side of every Google search-results page. Automat can create a free-standing Web page to serve as the product description page.

Here’s what I really want to know: If you create a listing, ad, or piece of content using this functionality, will it be addressable on the web? That is, will it be scrapable and searchable via other means? So if I create a job ad using whatever Google calls its geegaw, can Indeed find it? If I create, say, a restaurant listing and tag it as Mexican/New Jersey (something that’s too rare, by the way), will Technorati pick up the tags and IceRocket the text?

Google wants the rest of the world to put its stuff online to be searchable by Google. Will the stuff Google creates be searchable by everyone else? If it is, good. If not, you know what I’ll call it. Starts with an e…

Google base

I haven’t fully computed the meaning of Google’s base. But I’ll start here: If the king of the world of unstructured data — it searches everything — is now getting into the business of structuring data with such things as very formatted real-estate listings, then Google should openly publish its structure so anyone can use it anywhere and still be found by Google. If they don’t, then Google — which wants to tear down the walls around everyone else’s gardens — is only building a wall itself. And if they don’t publish their API, then folks should gang up and use microformats of our own so our stuff can be found in spite of Google on Google. But if they do publish it — and if it’s open-source and open to change — then I say fine: We have the start of standards to swarm around.

I’ll say again that the future of classifieds is not centralized — on newspaper sites or even on Craigs List or Monster — but decentralized and distributed, living anywhere and found by search engines. If that’s Google doing the finding, fine. If it’s a specialized competitor, fine.

: Here’s the SF Chron’s story on base.