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The Death of Yellow Pages

There are two very large books of information sitting on my door step. Usually, I like books. These two are almost completely useless to me. They are the Yellow and White pages. Bastions of a era that has passed.

With my recent move to Brisbane, I’ve been hunting around for new services. Searching for basic things, like doctors and accountants.

Five years ago, I used the physical Yellow Pages.

Two years ago, I used the Yellow Pages web site.

Today, I use Google.

Well, almost. I first ask people I know for their experiences. Then it is off to the court of public opinion - Page Rank.

If a business does not have a web site, they are obviously behind the times, so I’m not interested. If a business doesn’t have a high page rank for a targeted search, then they are not valued by others.

Having worked previously in a related industry, I pondered what it was that the Yellow Pages were missing. For me, it was ranking. The Yellow Pages is to businesses as the old Yahoo Directory was to the internet: A structured list.

Google has shown that isn’t good enough. For now, a list sorted by a vague sense of relevance wins. Ideally, there would be some way of having users rank businesses in a directory. Something akin to the coverage of Yellow Pages crossed with a community based ranking system.

Scoble gets it. Why don’t the Yellow Pages?

The catch is revenue. Yellow Pages makes its money by advertisers. With community ranking, there is the risk that their business won’t rank well. This would require a change in business model from the Yellow Pages - not likely. And so the Yellow Pages will drift into irrelevance.

I’m still not sure what to do with the books. Recycling seems the best option, and yet a waste at the same time.

They shouldn’t have shipped in the first place.