All your base are belong to Google

Much will already have been written about the new Google Base service, and doubtless many will have also used a variant of the “All your base are belong to us” [sic] tagline, but this new service has got me thinking about the nature of repositories. You know how it is, you spend years arguing over repository interoperability specifications and metadata application profiles then along comes Google and with a mix of simplicity and a massively scalable application to create the Interweb’s biggest repository of content. Oh sure, today it doesn’t look much like a repository, or at least not like many repositories (it’s more like a referatory at present), but it has most of the elements in there. Simple user edit form, metadata – even trendy tags, easy resource discovery – well it is Google after all, and even content syndication.

I thought I’d give it a try so I uploaded a simple QTI assessment item, not least because some QTI XML is about the least likely type of object that the Google Base team had in mind when they created the service. And do you know what, it just worked. Check it out here. And I love the little Google map insert that shows you where in the world my learning object is! There’s a nice little trick to encourage social learning by humanizing the geographic location of learning materials.

I think it’d be too easy to dismiss Google Base as a serious learning object repository, though I have no doubt many will, as from this first offering there’s a lot of potential. Wouldn’t it be fun if with a single stroke all the repository interoperability deliberations were swept aside when all our base belong to Google.

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