EdgeIO : Distributed classifieds

There are so many self-styled “Web 2.0” sites awaiting launch that I’ve completely lost track of where I’ve signed up for announcements. The latest surprise to land in my mailbox was the test code for edgeio, a distributed classified ads service.

Edgeio provides a ping service that publishers can notify of new items for sale listed on their site. Items tagged with ‘listing’ are added to their database, and purchasers can use the edgeio site as a directory of those listings. It’s an interesting idea, and a service that was bound to happen pretty soon, but I have a few questions about the implementation.

The FAQ says that there are a number of ‘tags’ that can be used to mark out specific content, eg. zip:49503 would ensure that my location was correctly identified by their crawler. But it’s surprising that they’re using this plain text model rather than suggesting a microformat-type approach. Sure, plain text is easier but for details more complex than a zip code demarcation becomes a problem, and all of those tags could quickly become ugly when viewed as an actual blog entry, rather than in edgeio’s database.

Perhaps microformat-style markup is going to emerge as an option soon. It shouldn’t be hard to publish plugins or javascript tools that make it easy to format data with that microformat, and ideally they’d work through the process for a formal microformat. If the service works, it’s good to see edgeio appear, but it’ll be the extra touches that will determine its success and utility.

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