a possible googleabuse

i was talking with quim today when he mentioned the idea of keeping his old phone for “people calling to my current spanish number”. this made me realise how silly phone numbers are. they’re practically like ip addresses.

i got an idea for an interesting workaround to this problem.

i publish a specification with some word unlikely to appear on its own, like “phonenumbersearchsystem”. i then use this spec to encourage people to augment their normal homepages with the following two features:

  • cause the phrase “phonenumbersearchsystem your name” to appear in the page
  • insert a meta tag into the page for phone number (possibly even having multiple meta tags for home, business, cell, “default”, etc.)

then in order to call someone you i’m-feeling-lucky for “phonenumbersearchsystem quim gil” and look at the meta tags of the page that comes back. if you find a phone number, you make a call.

this means that you can call the person’s current number simply by using their name. by virtue of the fact that you use your own homepage, the google juice for your name already increases your chance of being the first result. in fact, it might turn out to be better not to use the special word at all and just google the person’s name and use the special meta tag. this prevents the person, though, from having a phone number page divorced from their normal homepage. it also prevents you from passing results that are irrelevant to you (for example, there are a couple of pages that still win against “desrt” which are simply misspellings).

some neat advantages:

  • phone number changes would be instantaneous and you’d have no need to keep your “old number”
  • you could even have your webpage be a cgi script that returned different phone numbers at different times of the day (for this reason, it might make sense for your homepage not to contain the number directly, but to refer to another document that does)

some obvious disadvantages:

  • google could pull the plug at any time
  • obviously not for people who don’t want their phone number made public

so this blog post is mostly meant as a question: does anybody know of any other system currently abusing google (or other general-purpose public search engines) in this sort of way?

6 thoughts on “a possible googleabuse”

  1. The vcard microformat.

    It’s not really “abusing” Google. Google’s job is to hook people up with information on web pages based on their content. You can build things on top of HTML to add structure. That’s the whole point of microformats.

    – Chris

  2. What you suggest is very similar to OpenId. But I agree with comment #1, a DNS-based system is even more appealing.

  3. How about adding a FOAF page about yourself with your phone number? FOAF is a sufficiently unique search term, and well, it’s supposed to describe how to contact you…
    You can also add a photo, homepage, email, …

    The question is more: do I want everybody to have my phone number? I definitely prefer people to send me an email instead of calling me, thats why I rarely give out my phone number.

  4. He, I just found out I can find my professors phone number by searching for “foaf his name”; and with “foaf phone his name” it will actually be the first hit.

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