Dan Bricklin has a very interesting idea to make it easier for SMEs “to communicate information such as the physical location of the business and the area it serves, as well at the type of business, to search engines and other services.”
One of the major drivers of the US economy are small and medium businesses (which we’ll call “SMBs”). These range from restaurants, machine shops, lumber yards, advertising agencies and law offices, to carpenters, musicians, and locksmiths, to weekend DJs and grandmothers selling their knitting. This document describes a data file format and associated services designed to help those businesses in their use of the Internet.
One of the concerns of businesses is having their web site found by customers. One of the concerns of customers is being able to find an appropriate set of businesses from which to choose to meet their needs. Web sites and normal search engines meet some of these needs. Unfortunately, it has been difficult for search engines to ascertain specific information such as the particular locale served by a business, the type of the business, the languages spoken by the staff, etc. A human being can often find out this and a wide variety of other information by reading a web site, but it can be hard to automatically find it out for constructing a reliable database. The goal of this “SMBmeta” project is to provide a way to amass this additional data to aid in searching. It is not to provide the data that you would find on the web site itself, just the data you use in searching.
The way we do this is with an “smbmeta.xml” file.
The smbmeta.xml file is an XML file stored at the top level of a domain that contains machine readable information about the business the web site is connected to. It is an open, distributed way for small and medium businesses to communicate information such as the physical location of the business and the area it serves, as well at the type of business, to search engines and other services. Hopefully, it will open up innovation that will result in a wide variety of new services that will benefit the SMBs and their customers.
I like the idea – it can, for example, plug right into an RSS aggregator, so I could subscribe to SMEs in my area of interest or even in my neighbourhood. Getting SMEs to interact with other SMEs and end-users is the next big challenge.