Product & Startup Builder

Freebase - Centralized control of the distributed web?

Added on by Chris Saad.
There is a buzz about the launch of Freebase by Metaweb technologies on the web at the moment.

From the New York Times:

"The idea of a centralized database storing all of the world’s digital information is a fundamental shift away from today’s World Wide Web, which is akin to a library of linked digital documents stored separately on millions of computers where search engines serve as the equivalent of a card catalog."
Is it just me or does this seem completely antithetical to the entire point of the Web in general and the Web 2.0 philosophy specifically?

Are we not trying to create a distributed, democratic and user-centric reality where the right of self-expression trumps data silos?

So why would we all be rushing to contain all data in a single database?

Wouldn't it be a more effective solution to build a search engine that could aggregate content across the web by extracting and indexing it in a structured way. Something that can look for Microformats as well as try to extract structured data from unstructured pages using semantic analysis (similar to AdaptiveBlue).

It could even offer its index/database via APIs.

The difference with this scenario, though, is that we don't all have to play nice with a single database/API - they have to play nice with us. This is about shifting power from the few, to the many after all.

It seems to me to attempt otherwise is moving in the wrong direction.

Am I missing something here? Let me know what you think...