Using thinglinks in Google Base

Patrick Plaggenborg has written two good posts on Thinglink and Google base. On the representation of things he says:

“The objects (or items as Google refers to them) all need a unique identifier, and that’s where Thinglink appears: the public alternative to the commercial EPC (Electronic Product Code). At the moment Thinglink is doing great, but what they are doing right now is a double job. They provide unique identifiers: the actual thinglinks. But they also allow their users to create a descriptive layer around these things. At that point, Google is doing the same, but better, and gives people more flexibility to create a much more detailed digital representation of the ‘item’ concerned.Thinglink’s job is to provide unique identifiers: Thinglinks. Its website could give a nice overview of thinglinked objects, just like it does now, and it does a great job at that. The descriptive information about things though, belongs in Google Base, because we have more than just thinglinked objects.”

Patrick had also tried to thingtag his thesis on Google Base. This turned out to be not so simple.

“The first problem I came across was the addition of the attribute ‘Thinglink’. Google did not approve this attribute name. After contacting Google about this, they approved it for my particular item, but I’m still unable to add more items and provide them with thinglinks. The second problem is the layout of the actual thinglink. Google Base attributes do not allow colons in them. So it’s impossible to use an attribute name of ‘Thinglink’ (which should be possible as soon as Google approves this attribute for new items) with the value of ‘thing:189THS’.

For us this is very useful discussion, because we’re about to redesign the thinglink service and improve the searchability of things accross the web. Although we strongly encourage using the “thing:” prefix in front of the actual code, we’ve noticed that the code seems to work also without the prefix (see for example 265CII). Still, the search is not fully accurate this way.

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