Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Challenge has been laid down... |

Tom Coates (formerly of the BBC, now starting his new job at Yahoo) through his site talks about Google's new Beta launch Google Base, a central site for people to upload their content to make it more easily accessible and searchable.

"From a personal perspective, I don't quite get it - there's no obvious reason I can think of for an individual to post a recipe to the service - but from a business perspective it's really interesting. Basically it's a complete circumvention of the problems with the Semantic web which abandons decentralisation and microformats completely. If your company has a database of things (whether that be products or pictures or weblog posts or news articles or whatever) that it represents on the web, then Google Base suggests that you should not wait to be spidered and nor should you expect them to do all the heavy-lifting to work out what your site is about. Instead, you just bulk upload all your data to Google directly and associate each entry with your corresponding page on the web..."

"It's not all positive for the businesses or start-ups, of course. It consolidates the idea of Google or a parallel search engine as the definitive place to find out information of any kind (rather than the local brand that you usually associate with events, restaurants or whatever). And that kind of corresponds to a larger question about whether Google is gradually and systematically eating the web."

The fun part comes at the end when he lays down a challenge to his old employers at the British Broadcasting Corporation.

"My old colleague Mr Biddulph (who has been freelancing for the BBC for a few months) and Mr Hammersley (of RSS, web services and utilikilt infamy) have been working on a representation of the BBC Archives Infax database for a few months. They've written about it in two pieces: The BBC's programme catalogue (on Rails) and Hot BBC Archive Action. So why not make this content more explorable and searchable (and help define the way the web understands TV and radio programming) by bulk-submitting the entire massive database to Google Base? That would be an extraordinarily interesting move..."

An interesting move indeed. Let's see if there's a response...

While we're at it, he had an interesting article yesterday on whether "subscription media" via technology like podcasting will kill streaming video, or even, as he posits, broadcast.

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