Scripting News for 3/9/2007

Another historic milestone? 

You’d think after Tim O’Reilly over-hyped Yahoo Pipes he might tone down expectations a bit on the latest half-baked idea to roll through the tech blogosphere. But not this time. Here comes another historic milestone in the history of the Internet, Freebase.

But wait a minute where’s the beef?

It sounds like a flat-file database that’s open to the public. Not clear if there are rules about who can edit what, how they insure quality. Who does the reverts? How do they keep the spam out? Trolls?

And while they say there’s an API there doesn’t seem to be any information about what the API does and who can use it on what terms. So it’s hard to judge how much an innovation this is for the Internet and how much it is a way to capture UGC in a VC-owned data silo.

Mike Arrington likes it too. Why exactly will Google people be slapping their foreheads saying they could have (or should have) done this. It seems like a rehash of GoogleBase, which hasn’t exactly been revolutionary.

10 responses to this post.

  1. this is why I read you Dave. You’re smart, you get it, and like me, old enough, experienced enough, to notice things like corporate PR releases in major publications, then being able to link them back, and tie them in with the something like “Web 3.0”



  2. In the history of technology, has anything really life-changing been first announced in a New York Times story by John Markoff? This reminds me of the Markoff-churned hype surrounding the pre-launch of Odeo.


  3. Lemon, thanks for the kind words.

    Rex, I almost quoted your piece about podcasting, but decided that would be too self-aggrandizing.

    To answer your question, yes — there was one major innovation that I read about first in the NY Times — the world-wide web. It was in a Markoff article in 1993 or so, when it was very new. Markoff had said in a conversation I had with him at a cocktail party, just before the piece ran, that the web seemed to be the biggest thing going in the tech industry. I made note of that. When I read his article I decided I had to learn about it.

    That’s why I read Markoff, he *can* pull something like that out of the air and present it in terms that are electrifying. But he’s fallen on hard times. The Odeo piece was a milestone in the other direction, he missed podcasting thoroughly, wrote an idiotic piece, and served as a foil for a brilliant Hammock essay.


  4. The question that’s not being asked about this is “is it going to get us to the Semantic Web?”. This company isn’t offering anything wildly exciting – but it might prompt interest in technology that will push us in a more interesting direction. I think that too many tech journalists (and I include TechCrunch in that category) get too bogged down in the specifics of “who’s funding who?” to see the bigger picture sometimes.


  5. The one cool thing about GoogleBase is that I can log in to it. In that respect, it seems more free than Freebase.


  6. Thanks, Dave. (Unlike you, I’m into self-aggrandizing.) While I have forgotten the details, I do remember also Markoff’s great coverage of Kevin Mitnick that turned into the book Cyberpunk that he wrote with Katie Hafner (geez, I’ve mentioned her twice in one week in your comments). However, today, his role as gatekeeper of the launch-publicity of specific companies has been supplanted by others: those who can actually access the products and immediately kick the tires.


  7. Posted by R. Wood on March 9, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Dave, you were speechless about Gartenberg going to Microsoft. Now that, after three weeks, he’s done a turnaround and is back to Jupiter, are you even more speechless? I haven’t seen you mention it.



  8. Posted by Jim Posner on March 9, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    Here is 3GB of 2007 SXSW Bands. (all legal) Much new music to be enjoyed.


  9. Tom – you bring up a good point. The hype surrounding the semantic web seems to fall flat when we ask how we actually create semantic content.

    I’m amazed, sometimes, at how many people are willing to contribute to Wikipedia for free. If understand what Metaweb wants, it wants us to fill in semantic fields to better pivot on the loosely structured content that Wikipedia provides. I’m having a hard time getting the incentive to do so.


  10. Posted by Jim Posner on March 9, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    Semantic Web Baby Steps

    The path to maturity begins with baby steps. Granted, Tim’s 2nd child seems to be developing at a slower pace than his older sibling. The semantic web has good genes and much promise as illustrated in the included article.


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