Dan Bricklin has made a proposal (with an accompanying introductory essay) to extend the notion of RSS to allow a business to link to a company description file (in XML, of course) on the company’s web site. He calls it SMBmeta: Small and Medium-sized Business metadata. Although Dan hasn’t proposed it this way, a pointer to the XML file could simply be a link embedded in the HTML source of the home page — just like weblogs are now doing to point to their RSS files.
This reminds me a bit of UDDI — being pushed by a number of large players but which has failed to gain any significant momentum — intended as a meta-directory pointing to various web services that a company/organization provides. UDDI, for example, defines something called a businessEntity.
But Dan’s approach is much more pragmatic — attempting to simply provide enhanced information about a company such that it can be captured, indexed, etc. in a systematic way. Sorta like a global directory that’s updated locally on each company’s website.
Google, for example, recently introduced a new service called Froogle which provides product search results. It (or anyone else for that matter) could build a similar company search capability which would leverage the SMBmeta XML data.
How would the information be easily created and updated? One thought — a lot of small businesses use Quickbooks for their accounting. Quickbooks could be enhanced to manage/publish this file in XML form. Quickbooks could potentially even host the information (e.g., a brief company home page and, more importantly, the XML content) on its servers for a fee or bundled into its pricing — for small businesses lacking that capability.
Hmmm, maybe this also relates a bit to digital identity — for a company/organization, not an individual?