Google Base

Google launched yet another service: "Google Base":http://base.google.com. What it is? A place to store all kinds of content, be it events, recipes or whatever you like. When I saw this, I was like, what the hell do I need this for? And to be quite honest, after playing with it for a little while (it's free, you can just sign in with your Google account), I still don't entirely get it. But usually writing about it helps, so let's try that.

Google Base is based on "items". and you can define our own. Just for testing I defined a new item type called "Birthday":

Birthday Item

When you do this you can define attributes (of different types, be it strings, numbers, dates, addresses, areas), add a title, description, location, labels (keywords) and a link. After you push the Publish button, items will appear online after 15-60 minutes. Each author gets his/her own URL where you can see all his/her items. In my case "http://www.google.com/base/a/zefhemel":http://www.google.com/base/a/zefhemel.

Ok, so now I got an item containing my next birthday online. Now what? Well, I don't know. I wonder what I could use this for. If I would put up items that I have for sale, I could start using it as a kind of marketplace. As other users can search everybody's items, they would be able to find the items I have for sale. The Google Base FAQ states that "highly relevant" items may show up in Google, Froogle and Google local. So that's one use. Another one, I can imagine, is if you're organizing events, such as plays, conferences and so on. You could "advertise" them by putting them on the Google Base.

As I write about this, I start to see reasons to use this service. I think that it is most useful to people who want to advertise something, to let other people know something. At first I sort of assumed/hoped it would be useful just for yourself as well. I could've imagined putting up contact information, my calendar and have it searchable, but I doubt it would really work for that (let alone people appreciating me putting up their contact details online for everybody to find).

What makes it interesting to me is that it's more about meta data. Google so far was mostly about web pages and links between them. There was not much more you could tell about it. If people would start using this service, information would be typed. It would no longer be just web pages it would be more specific things: cars, events, objects for sale, people. As there's a series of attributes associated with items you can use those to search more specifically. It's not just a plain text search over the whole webpage anymore. You can search based on any of the attributes. For example: show me all events in this area that take place today.

Problem with adding this meta data is that it's a lot of work for the people entering it, plus there's no guarantee whatsoever that the entered information is actually correct. But as it's Google launching this service I assume they have plans with this and ways to solve these problems. Time will tell.