This time the taxonomy will really work

Among other activities keeping me busy this weekend has been the establishing of, well, a base, on Google Base. This is a beta service from Laboratoires Googlier, the people who brought you Google X. Briefly.

The premise is that Google will host your content (or, if you prefer, a chunk of it and a link elsewhere) with no copyright claims on their part; they’ll then use any metadata keys provided by their user base as a whole to generate a dynamic, flat set of attributes that you can sort of navigate as you search. It’s sort of reinventing the directory structures of old, like Yahoo! and DMoz, but in a vaguely Web 2.0 way: rather than imposing something like Dublin Core from the outset, the technology enables the content to work for the user, rather than some other permutation of those three parties.

I can report some minor success already. I’ve been putting paragraphs of content up there, along with an image linked through from Amazon, and a link back to my reviews site. There’s definitely been a kick in visitor numbers, but I can’t guarantee that it won’t drop off as more and more content is added to Google Base. Early adopters get more traffic than they deserve, as I found with my first few, intentionally obfuscated personal websites (which managed to make many a compsci’s head spin: I’d hate to see her tackle Superbad).

My initial minor gripes are confined to the fact that they don’t permit “Beeching” as a keyword—how dare I mis-spell “beaching,” they imply?—and there’s no formatting permitted in any of the data you upload to them. Also, there’s occasional link inconsistencies: content you can’t always get to, links that lead to empty searches, that sort of thing. This will all probably be sorted out after it leaves the beta stage. If it ever lasts that long.

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