white page listings

Ron Resnick (resnick@interlog.com)
Fri, 15 Nov 1996 11:16:19 -0500 (EST)

Warning: Dry, dull, technical-ish FoRK posting ahead. But I figured I'd endured
enough pap about RK's flight plans, and if he can waste bits, I can at
least aim for something with a bit more content. Don't like - don't read: you
were warned :-).

I thought this was kind of neat. Bell Canada (the RBOC for Ontario/Quebec)
is accepting business & residential listings of email addresses and web urls
for publication in its printed white pages, along with traditional phone
Are American providers doing this too, or is this a first?

Of course, dead-tree phone books aren't exactly state of the art, even with
urls & emails. There is an online 411 service for Canada, similar to the
white page services in the US, but right now it only mirrors the existing
telco databases (ie, phone number/street address). Presumably though,
if one registers for the first service, the email/url would eventually show
up in the online directory too.

You yanks may not have noticed (or cared) but the white page services like
Four11 etc. register a global database for emails/urls, but only a US national
registry (obtained from the RBOCs) of phone numbers/addresses. Ie, I can
list my email there, but my phone/address won't show up.

Now wouldn't it be something if all the online directories, put out by phone
companies and startups like Four11, all federated? Everyone on the planet
is then searchable by name (or phonetic), with full contact information:
phone/fax/address/email/www, with no arbitrary national or RBOC boundaries
separating the databases... (subject to ACL type limitations of course. You
can 'unlist' your info, or list only to priveleged users,
much as you can unlist your phone book entry).
Hmm, now make all online resources (not just people)
searchable the same way... hmm, now get a standardized programmatic
interface to the search engines so not just folks filling in html forms get
access, but so do objects, ... hmm, starting to sound like a trading

I'm just tired of each and every HotBot and AltaVista and Excite and Four11
out there having it's own unique GUI search interface, having no programmatic
search interface, having its own unique GUI object-ref (ie URL) registration
interface, having no programmatic object-ref registration i/f. Also, I'm annoyed
by how they all concentrate on string based searches, as if the only
properties an object
can have worthy of forming predicates on are string based. 3 decades of
progress on predicate-based queries and SQL have brought us to this??

Yes, I know, I'll probably get flamed now for 'old bits' from anyone who's
heard me make similar claims before. But maybe a bit of intelligent
discussion on the subject makes that worthwhile?