March 22, 2004


One of the startups debuting here at PC Forum is Metacarta, which helps you find all documents that mention a certain place.

While they're focusing on enterprise customers (and three-letter agencies no doubt), it occurs to me that one of the interesting potential applications is with Amazon's "Search Inside the Book" capability. With Metacarta's tool, that suggests Amazon could let you do queries such as:

  • Find all novels that take place or have scenes in or have dialogue about some town or place.

  • Find all travel books on Hawaii that have sections on Kapaa or Anini Beach or some other little town or locale that you're interested in. A travel book that has good references to the things I am most interested in visiting, or, say, friends have highly recommended I visit, would be my first choices for books to buy...

  • Find all DVDs whose reviews or descriptions mention a certain place or locale.

  • Find all history books that refer to your home town.

  • Let's say I'm giving a keynote speech in Witchita, KS. I need a great anecdote about Witchita, but I want it to be literary and perhaps one that nobody's used before or at least recently. So I go to Amazon and search all literature for books that mention Witchita, or even a particular street in Witchita, and I find some great examples from Mark Twain or I.F. Stone or Jack London or perhaps from a recent novel or travel book, and I work that reference in to the opening of my lecture.

That's just a sampling of ideas that I think would enhance Amazon as well as give Metacarta a flashship customer.

Jeff Bezos is here at this conference. I suggested to John Frank, Metacarta's CEO, last night at dinner that he hook up with Jeff Bezos and talk...

UPDATE: I'm told that John Frank has indeed hooked up with Bezos. Let's see if something happens!

Posted by brian at March 22, 2004 02:28 PM

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