A service is an offering by an Online Service Provider on the Internet that helps the user to manage his MicroContent Items in one way or another.
I had a look at the TitleZ service. It allows a user to search for books at Amazon and get information on the sales (or better rank) of that book. You can get an historic view for instance. A registered user can save searches and thus build-up a library of books.
So far so good, but why should I build up such a library? It lacks a lot of other features that I came to expect from a Library Management Service. The service is fun to use, but I do not see a need for me. Maybe something for long-tail researchers.
This service provides another way to look at bookmarks: stickies. When visiting a website a user can create a sticky with a description and tags. This information is then stored at the service. This is just like bookmarks. What I find interesting however is that when one revisits the site, one sees the stickies one has created. Thus ones memory is refreshed. I like this feedback.
I had a look at the ClipMark service. It allows users to create bookmarks for pieces of web-pages (the clips). Each clip is copied with the created bookmark.
I played a bit around with it and especially with the Clip It function that the Firefox extension offered. This extension allows a user to recognise parts of a web-page such as images and and paragraphs. Interestingly it also recognises div-elemenst on a page. Thus I was able to point to an entire MicroContent Item on my web-page and clip the whole thing. Even more interesting was the fact that it attached the corresponding permalink to that clip. How did it do that? It was the right thing to do. So in some sense this service allows to clip MicroContent Items. That would be a great service.
[Inspiration Om Malik]
With all the lists going around at the end of this year, I thought to have a go at it as well. I do not want make it to difficult. My best MicroContent Service is the one that gets the highest ratings in my MicroContent Services Blog. It turned out a bit hard to find that service (still have to work on structured searching).
In a review of Riff, a review publishing service, Michael Arrington speaks out against centralised content plays. It is the first time that I see him take such a Web 2.0 point of view. I wonder however how consistent his stand is. Does he take the same standpoint for all MicroContent types? I think he does not. He still like Flickr as a hosting provider for images, although he can put those images on his own blog as well. He should throw the gauntlet into the field of blog hosters and systems. They are starting to trail behind. They should introduce more support for any type of MicroContent. Only then can we truly move to a distributed world.
And as was expected the comments on Google Base are flowing around. Comments, such as made by TechCrunch on the version, are not really interesting. It is the future that counts here. Many people see the MicroContent part of the service (Bokardo).
There are some MicroContent related comments around. Barb Dybwad calls Google Base Yet Another Walled Data Garden. I agree with that, but I have good hope that they will add RSS-feeds in the future. Windley agrees with me that the structure of the data is the most important thing of Google Base. Michael Bazeley @ SiliconBeat emphasizes the open platform aspect of Google Base. But that will all depend on the API's. There are none at the moment. He also mentions the people profiles type within Google Base. Maybe this can be a place to store your FOAF profile. I'm not sure Google Base should be used for identity and profiles.
The post my Richard McManus made me realise that one can see Google Base also as a MicroContent aggregator. This aggregator can (re-)store any structured MicroContent published on the Web. Their RSS-input feed give the inkling for that. And then Google is the center of a distributed XML database. And if any user has a structured query, they go first to Google Base.
Danny Ayers has nice comments and he has the impression that Google Base can be used to store RDF. And that sounds promising.
I'll add more to this post as I notice it around the BS (blogosphere).
And finally the Google Base service is really available. I like to focus on the MicroContent part of the service. Undoubtedly many other analyses will appear in the blogosphere.
The first question is whether I can call this service a MicroContent enabler at all. I think we can. The service does recognize MicroContent items as separate entities. This can be well seen on my published items page. The Google Items have structure, i.e. each item consists of multiple fields. The overview page gives an indication that there is a minimal set of fields. This minimal set consists of a title, labels (tags) and a description. Each items als has an author and a publication date. Each item does have a permalink, which links to the html-page of the item. Strangely enough this permalink is not always visible on the Items-page, but that can be tweaked. In conclusion Items on Google Base can be called MicroContent Items.
The next question is to analyse how far Google is on the MicroContent road. One thing I miss are the feeds or in fact any other method to export Items. I did not see any. The availability of the search function could result into all kinds of feeds. I hope they will add that at some other stage.
Google Base recognizes multiple MicroContent types: course shedules, events and activities, jobs, news and articles, etc. A user can even create his own Item types. And also existing Items are easily tweaked by adding or deleting fields. Thus the Items in Google Base are really wild.
An interesting function available within Google Base is the bulk upload. A user can point to either a tab-separated vale or XML-file. It supports RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0 formats. Interestingly all the various fields are supported as well. They created various format additions to RSS. I have to experiment with this at a later stage. It would be nice when one could let Google Base subscribe to a feed. That would really put the data outside.
[Inspiration John Battelle]
A funny name, but yet another product bookmarking service. The Shoposphere itself is a search service where a user can search into the picklists created by users of Yahoo. A picklist is a list of products selected by a user. A user can add a comment to a product, but no tags. It is easy to copy (reblog) a product to your own list. The nice thing about this is the fact that it can be used for any product-url in the Yahoo comparison shopping service.
The user can create multiple lists (categories), such as the wish list, the owned list, etc. Any list can be published to other Yahoo users and thus turning it into a pick list (my example (stupid URL by the way)). Any picklist is also available as RSS-feed. Viewers of a picklist can add a comment to the list. And a picklist can be rated (yes/no) as well by other users.
I see Items on a Yahoo list as a bookmarks. The user can only supply a description per Item and the rest (product-url, date, author) is done by Yahoo. The various lists can be seen as categories, which limit the scope of the bookmarks on a list. The picklist itself seems to be a MicroContent Item as well. One can add comment and simple ratings to it.
[Inspiration Richard McManus]
Various people around the blogosphere noted that Amazon introduced tags. I did not see it yet on Amazon.fr, so I headed over to Amazon.com. Near a product-item a user sees a field where he can enter a tag. This tag is however something personal and really is more like a bookmark. This means that the user can see which tags he used for which products. The user can thus create a list of Products, a bookmark list. For Amazon a bookmark just consists of this tag and the related Product. A user can also set whether the bookmark is private or not. There are no titles, no descriptions, no feeds, no permalinks.
[Inspiration Richard McManus]
I had a look at the Opinity service. This service allows a user to create a reputation. This seems basically to mean that a user can create reviews for people. Interesting, I would like to see a more distributed MicroContent solution for this.
A more interesting feature to me is the certification of identities. A user can submit identities (username+password) at the service. And Opinity will try to login. If it succeeds it has certified that identity. Something similar can be done with email addresses. In this way u user can prove that his various identities on various services belong to the same service.
I see such a certification service as a part of a personal profile.
[Inspiration Reg Cheramy @ Web2.0 Central]
Marc Canter isecstatic about the social media tools created by Matt McAllister at Yahoo. I must that I have mixed feelings. I do not like that service providers point me to services they selected. I want to make the selection myself. But I guess that is what Marc is talking about: opening up the chiclets, buttons, bookmarklets, etc.
So what do we need? It seems that one can add to each web-page a standard set of Web-services, such as print-this, bookmark-this, email-this, etc. This can be handled either through a standard configurable set of bookmarklets or even incorporated into the web-browser somehow.
But we also get a set of standard web-services around each MicroContent Item within a web-page. Each MicroContent Item should be accompanied with an operations pull-down menu indicated by a standard icon, such as: . Under that pull-down can be put a set of standard services, such as save-item, reblog-item, print-item, etc. I see here a task for the browser supplier as well. A browser should be able to identify embedded MicroContent items (microformat or structured blogging) and present the possible operations under an alt-click.
Anyway it is an important development in creating the MicroWeb, whatever solution is adopted. But let’s try to generalise and open up as much is possible.
Nova Spivack makes the link between Google Base and Ning. I find that a bit farstretched. Ning.com has created a whole set of services around the database idea, and not even a good one at that. Ning.com seems to be much more a blog-system than Google Base seems to be. There are many components before one has a good MicroContent publishing system.
Nova Spivack makes a good point about the semantics. There will be a problem ahead. However let’s get the egg hatched first before we think about the chicken. First we need a lot of MicroContent out there. But I am interested what he is working upon.
A very interesting search service based on tags. A user can enter a tag and perform a search on sites that support tags. At least that is what I assume. Most of the sites I saw do support tags. It is a great example of what the MicroWeb might lead to.
I had a look at Google Blogsearch for my Services blog. I must say that I was a bit underwhelmed: it does not see my MicroContent blogs or one of my other blogs. It is nice however that one can subscribe to a search query through rss and/or atom.
Bryan Alexander notes that the number of Social Bookmarking services is exploding. I noticed it as well and tried several services, but always stay with del.icio.us. The main problem I have is that I have already a big set of bookmarks. Some services allow me to import from del.icio.us, but not to export. So I do not try those services as they will lock me in. The Social Bookmark services should be made more Web 2.0 aware. For one thing that means allowing users to export the bookmarks, but also to import the bookmarks. It would be even better if they would share the bookmarks between them. Then I would go to the service provider with the best social networking or search services. And it would be even better if these services would pick up my bookmark feed and add it automatically to their service.