The Web is awash in "exchange data" - from apartment listings on Craigslist to job listings on LinkedIn, Monster and Twitter. There are handcrafted goods on Etsy and real estate offerings on Zillow. But each site offers its own method for hosting similar data, with the end user left to visit each site to access it. For developers, the data is often held captive and inaccessible. Greg Kidd, founder and CEO of 3taps, argues that this data "should be available to the public" and is launching a "Data Commons" to do just that.
According to Kidd, an early investor in Twitter and advisor for mobile payment company Square, 3taps follows in the footsteps of both Twitter and Square in and effort to democratize data.
"Twitter was the democratization of media, Square is the democratization of payments, we're looking to be the democratization of exchanges," explained Kidd.
3taps, which calls itself the "one-stop data shop," provides data from a variety of providers - Ebay, Craigslist, Twitter, Etsy, LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed, Zillow, Wikipedia, Amazon and more - which it normalizes according to category and location. This makes it possible for developers to create mash-ups using real-time exchange data, which the company says it updates at a rate of more than 100 postings per second.
If you've ever used Craigslist to search for anything, then you know both the wonder and the pain that is the bare-bones Craigslist interface. 3taps built a new Craigslist interface, called Craiggers, using the same data but with an advanced interface as an example of what its "Data Commons" makes possible. The site offers all the benefits of Craigslist's data without the inefficiency of its design.
What does Craigslist think about this? That remains to be seen. Kidd argues that exchange data is public in just the same way that, when you see a road sign pointing to a shop down the street you can use that information to write a guide about the area. It's public information. The same goes for publicly posted exchange data on the Internet.
"Public facts are public property," explains Kidd. "Postings of offers to exchange goods and services availed on the public Internet are intended to be widely disseminated and used. The Data Commons liberates this data from artificial confines."
3taps plans on doing all of this with a number of outbound APIs for developers to "build whatever they wish" using them. It is also in talks with API directory and provider Mashery and has just signed on Twitter co-founder and Square CEO Jack Dorsey as an advisor.
We're expecting two things to come of this launch - hopefully, a variety of cool services and mash-ups to reinvent our interactions with exchange data and, most likely, some backlash from the companies currently hosting this "public" data.