Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Power of Openness

I was about to rant on the fact that, though "BEA is proud to provide complete online documentation for all BEA products", their site does not offer any search feature.

Then, duh! It stroke me that they do not need to provide such a feature. They only need to make their content accessible and well organized so that Internet search engines can do their job and voila! Anyone can search through their content using his or her favorite engine.

This sounds incredibly obvious but it is not. Many vendors still hide their documentation in password protected sections of their site, preventing robots to crawl and index them. This usually translates for us, users, into trying to get results from home made search engines that are case sensitive, do not support any typo and are, in general, reluctant to find anything useful (they are probably built after a famous canine model).

In a broader sense, the promises of the Internet will materialize when we will all expose our public data in an organized, unified and standardized way. Then the time of so-called social networks will be over: we will be using search and data extraction tools to build views of the Internet that are relevant to our purpose.

Does not this sound like semantic web? Is there a human friendly alternative?

UPDATE: It might well be social networks open APIs?