I agree with Gary when he agrees with David Card and Charlene Li. When I wrote about Google Base yesterday for ClickZ, I focused on the classifieds- and eBay-threatening aspects of the initiative (because we write about advertising), but those are only small pieces of the larger picture. This is about Google getting into structured data. And because it’s Google, and it has the power to direct lots and lots of traffic, people will submit their structured data.
I talked a while at the Web 2.0 conference with Bob Wyman, CTO of PubSub, about Structured Blogging. The idea behind it is that people should publish (blog) in certain formats, basically tagging their posts to indicate whether it’s, say, a movie review or an event announcement. A movie review has certain standard parts — the name of the movie, the rating (# of stars), the review text. A structured movie review can have those parts labelled as such. An event announcement also has standard features — date, start time, end time, description, venue, etc. If people publish things in the proper formats, with posts and their component parts labelled as such (via tags), all of the data becomes much much easier to parse and deal with (even break apart and reassemble).
It’s that conversation with Bob that I’ve applied in my thinking about GoogleBase. They’ve got all of these standard types of things they suggest you submit — housing, products, reviews, services, travel, vehicles and want ads — which presumably all have standard component parts. If people and businesses are willing to format it the right way — and, as I’ve said, because it’s Google, they will — one could do an incredible variety of things with that data. Classifieds and eBay-style solutions would just be one option.
UPDATE: Charlene Li’s post is attracting a lot of interesting comments.
UPDATE: Sergey Brin in the NY Times this weekend: “Google Base is as much about classified as it is about zoology.”