Google Base Item Types

So Google Base launched today. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s been called an eBay and Craigslist killer among other things. Whether or not you believe that Google Base will have that effect, the anxiety it produces comes from the “item type” feature, which I find fascinating. Item types are simply content genres, or […]

So Google Base launched today. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s been called an eBay and Craigslist killer among other things.

Whether or not you believe that Google Base will have that effect, the anxiety it produces comes from the “item type” feature, which I find fascinating. Item types are simply content genres, or types of content. Here is the complete list of prepopulated item types on Google Base so far:

  • Course Schedules
  • Events and Activities
  • Jobs
  • News and Articles
  • People Profiles
  • Products
  • Recipes
  • Reference Articles
  • Reviews
  • Services
  • Vehicles
  • Wanted Ads

The system basically allows anybody to add an instance of any of these things to the Google Base database. Here’s a recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala, one of my favorite Indian dishes. But Google Base also allows users to add their own item types. So I could go in and add an item type for a baseball box score, for example.

This reminds me of the vision of Joe Reger’s XML Schema tool, which I wrote about in early September. It allows people to create genres of content for their own use.

But Google seems to have bigger plans. At first glance this looks like some sort of content platform.

Other interesting things:

  1. Google has done *everything* except produce the actual content. They’ve set up a system for which the only thing people have to do is type words.
  2. Nowhere is the format of the item types mentioned. This shows that Google understands that semantic markup is for geeks only, and regular users don’t care a whit about it. In fact, Google doesn’t seem to care about it, as its item type markup is mush.
  3. This is the next logical step after blogging. Instead of throwing all of our content at a single blog-like item type, Google Base is recognizing which item types are popular and providing targeted fields for those. If blog software chose to support these item types, we would choose which one we wanted as we started a blog post. As Joe Reger’s datablogging effort shows, this is coming even as we speak.
  4. They’ve built in a tagging feature. Users can tag items! With Amazon adding tagging earlier this week and now Google adding it, (although they’ve already had it in their Search History feature), it shows that tagging is garnering some huge attention.

In effect, Google is taking on the world here. They recognized that the popular services out there (Craigslist, eBay, Delicious) are simply really, really good at one item type. Craigslist is great at classifieds, eBay is great at auction listings, and Delicious is great at bookmarks.

Now, Google has an answer to each of these in the prepopulated list items. If those companies don’t see Google Base as a shot across their bow, I think they will soon.

Update:For folks who don’t think it’s a big deal, just wait until some innovative developer leverages it in a way that you can’t predict…think Google Maps, Craigslist and Housingmaps

Also, much more coverage: All Your Base are Google, The Launch (John Battelle), Google Base Launched, Yuck (TechCrunch), and Google Base: RDF lite silo? (Danny Ayers)

Published: November 16th, 2005

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