A small group of dedicated individuals have been working on an initiative called Open Marketplace (OM) for some time. The OM project has been a huge learning process for all of us. Put simply, OM is about creating an open platform for marketplace information. This includes everything commercial, non-commercial, from governmental to religious and all aspects of these including places, people, products, services, events and so one. It’s a huge goal, but we know it takes big ideas to change the world.
In working through OM, we’ve dealt with a whole host of issues. I’d like to tell you about one of them, the concept of history in data and in the marketplace.
In high school one of my teachers kept saying something that really stuck with me. “Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Over the years, I’ve heard the saying tossed about many a time, but usually in a negative sense, since more often than not, we don’t have the insight of history or apply what we learn from it.
When we started working on OM, I started thinking about the role that history has in the marketplace, more specifically the history of places. As we gathered place data (business listings), the issue of old or obsolete data came to the forefront. What is the value of a listing for a business that is no longer in business? Most of us would say, not much, at least not from a traditional directory perspective.
But, a few things struck us; the web is full of outdated directories, so how does a user know if the place in question is simply missing from a particular directory or truly no longer operating? In other words, just because it is not listed in a specific directory - does not mean it doesn’t exist. So we came to the conclusion that a listing of a closed place has more value than no listing at all.
Another reality is that many businesses come and go at the same address. We all know of the local place that everyone refers to for directions or as a landmark. So what happens when that place is gone and we remove all references to it from everywhere? Well, we lose our history and everyone and everything - that at one time or another referred to that place - is now wrong.
Imagine being able to search for a place that is no longer operating, but there is still a listing for it. A listing that identifies it as closed, and it links to the current place in that location - in essence, an archaeological layering of information that maintains the integrity of the marketplace at a certain place in time.
What about the place that moved? Well, this is one that we are still working on - I personally think that we should leave a footprint of the place at that location as well. How we do this we are not yet sure, but this is another step in creating a historical image of the Open Marketplace.
We believe that maintaining historical information will become very valuable over time. Let’s imagine in the future a new restaurateur looking for a location to open up her new restaurant. If she were able to look at the location for the history of places, she might learn that a dozen restaurants have failed in that location and therefore re-think the choice of location. Today this type of information is hard to obtain. In some instances this information can be priceless.
At Open Marketplace we’re as glad to get information that is no longer accurate, as we are to get info that is. Because, we know that at some point someone will correct it, therefore adding another piece of historical value to the fabric of the marketplace.
Picture of closed restaurant by: Editor B