interesting take by John Battelle on the recent GoogleBase / Craigslist stories making the rounds. John comments Google appears to be a less-than-ideal partner for companies with valuable "dark web" databases.
while privileged access to structured data is an important asset, it's unclear if long-term it can be maintained in proprietary fashion -- to be forever "defended" unilaterally from others with new ideas, applications, & innovations.
the answer: not effin' likely.
with vertical search growing ever more advanced, and ever increasing access to a plethora of data sources across multiple long tail markets, it becomes less viable for anyone to play the walled garden game to their singular benefit... even Google.
as data online becomes more structured, and as webpages become easier to publish & find, any item of interest an individual or publisher wants findable will eventually be found. at that point, walled gardens cease to be all that helpful to anyone.
to be honest: the open source & open access movements aren't happening because "the Internet wants to be free", nor because of any other flowery notion of transparency or other Web 2.0 buzzwords. rather, openness has power because competition & innovation happen faster & better with open access to structured data, which in turn leads to more desirable web applications & destinations for users to experience.
if you read Guns Germs & Steel, Jared Diamond's Pulitzer prize-winning book on human civilization over the past 10,000 years, you will learn that societies within easy access and latitude of each other exchanged technology, agriculture, animal husbandry techniques, as well as virulent microbes -- and subsequently became the richest, healthiest, and most advanced nations on the planet. meanwhile, those remaining walled off by longitude or geography (or that chose to wall themselves off for political or cultural reasons) became weaker, subject to disease from outsiders, and ultimately much poorer than their more gregarious neighbors.
now the equivalent metaphors for evolution on the web aren't Guns, Germs & Steel; rather they are Data, Apps & XML.
companies that take advantage of this online trinity and exchange information (via XML & RSS) and applications (as web services & APIs) with others will grow stronger & more relevant to users and partners. companies that isolate themselves (by choice or inaction) from other data partners & user access will become less rich, less relevant, and eventually less viable.
the folks here at SimplyHired certainly welcome the structure & data that Google are bringing to the web, along with other critical data & services from companies like Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, and many more. still, structured data alone does not make for helpful services that people want to use -- but it does provide a good platform on which to build great applications.
so: may a thousand flowers (aka applications) bloom.
(and let's hope that Google Base position for World Domination Coordinator goes unfilled for just a bit longer ;)
psst. hey bud. yeah you, over there next to the water cooler. why aren't you back at your desk, hard at work on that TPS report? i think we both know why... slacker.
you're just wasting time.
you got no work ethic whatsoever.
you probably spend most of your day surfing the web, right?
well since you're not doing anything productive, check out our Fired Film "The Fall Guy", and answer these 3 questions:
1) think you're funny, punk?
2) want to be famous?
3) got a digital camera or cellphone that takes movies?
congratulations: you're qualified to be a Fired Film director.
now send an email to a few friends about Simply Fired, and remember -- the only bad films are the ones that don't get made.
Fame is hard. The cameras, the publicity, the lights... especially the lights. the blinking, flashing, distracting lights... They grew so bright that our servers got a little distracted today, and forgot about giving you jobs. For about 3 hours, some of you were shunned by the distracted servers, but they're more attentive now. We're discovering the limits of our servers - this is a good thing, as it helps us scale. Yay!
(full disclosure: totally plagiarizing Erick Schonfeld above... no original creativity in our headline whatsoever ;)
Here's Charlene Li's take, and our response & commentary on why we think the job search process is more than just structured data & structured search.
briefly, the folks here at Simply Hired believe delivering on solutions for any vertical search domain consists of the following four critical services:
1) Structured Search (& associated metadata)
2) Relevant Content
3) Vertical Applications
4) Grassroots Communities
Specifically: if/when Google decides to enter the classifieds market, they could help enhance the user experience a lot in the first two areas, and provide another source of great structured content (as do others like Monster, CareerBuilder, Yahoo HotJobs, & Craigslist, along with a very long tail of other data sources).
However in addition to the first two items, Simply Hired's mission also includes the latter two -- namely, delivering domain-specific applications & workflow to jobseekers, and supporting the communities of individuals, job boards, employers, & recruiters who deal with job-related problems & solutions.
more from our commentary on Charlene's post below:
certainly seems like an interesting play from Google, and we'd agree structured data hosting / structured blogging / microcontent are likely directions the Googleplex will aim for.
however, vertical *applications* are likely to be as important as vertical search and structured content (listings). while Google may rollout a great new platform for managing & publishing structured data, it doesn't mean they will *also* provide end-to-end solutions and apps to manage the process & workflow on top of the search & listings.
A hosted "Gbase" DB offering will not by default solve all domain-specific issues relevant to each of the verticals mentioned. it very well could provide a structured (and perhaps free?) alternative to craigslist classified listings, or a no-cost/lo-cost competitor to eBay/Kijiji. but someone or some team still needs to build a set of apps focused around a specific set of users & needs.
history as a guide, Froogle has done an ok job with implementing structured search for shopping items, but they haven't blown away the rest of the market competitors in that arena either. as with Froogle, the Gbase market entry doesn't necessarily equal market dominance -- at least not right away. (btw, this feels eerily familiar -- like how people used to view new product announcements from Microsoft: the impact was generally overestimated in the short-term, and underestimated in the long-term).
In the interim period (guessing next 2-5 years?), there is plenty of room for new players to out-innovate Google, by focusing on one vertical domain at a time & solving the end-to-end problems native to that vertical.
Google will still move inexorably towards a more structured world of data, but apps & workflow will be needed on top of their platform(s) in order to derive greater value for their users.