One of the entrepreneurs that I ran into at Startup Camp was Nate Westheimer, founder and CEO of BricaBox, LCC. It took me a short while to get my head around what it is that BricaBox does, but it became clearer the moment I imagined what YouTube was before YouTube was YouTube. So, let's start with that notion.
Without sites like YouTube (or Flickr for photos), people might be publishing their videos and images directly into blog posts the way we do here at ZDNet when I publish videos, podcasts and other reviews into our instance of Wordpress. Except for the headline, the content itself (a mixture of text and video), the categories, and the author, the result -- a blog post just like the one you're reading -- is unstructured. So what's the difference between a video post on ZDNet and a post on YouTube? On YouTube, all the posts have a bit more structure to them. Whereas with ZDNet, each post is for the most part unstructured (at least in presentation, maybe not on the back end), there are more fields of data associated with each post on YouTube.
The point is that there are some types of posts that fit really well into the unstructured publishing mantra of blogs and wikis. But, if what you have to publish requires a lot more structure for each post. How do you do that? Chance are you have to turn to some sort of database like solution that doesn't really operate the way blogs and wikis do where they're more like publishing platforms for the read/write Web that take care of everything from the navigation to search to chronological ordering, etc.
Enter BricaBox which is due to launch later this year. How would someone used to blogs or wikis use BricaBox? Let's say you wanted to become a self-made movie critic and use a blog-like format to do it. Each post could have a lot of structure to it. There would be the name of the movie, the date it came out, the studio it came from, the genre, etc, etc. Or how about trying the same thing for restaurant reviews, or becoming your own wine enthusiast like Gary Vaynerchuk whose posts could include other fielded data for each of his reviews (the wine, the vineyard, the grape, the vintage, the rating, etc.). You could publish your review in something like a standard blog but you could never hope to deal with the structural needs through tagging or categories. You'd need something that is just a bit more robust. That's what BricaBox is.
Another thing BricaBox can do is mash data from 3rd party sources into data fields.. So, going back to the restaurant critic application, BricaBox can be used to pull maps in from Google Maps as another structured data item. Let's say you trust me as a critic of NYC restaurants. Potentially, the benefit of this sort of structure could be a query that starts with the GPS technology in your mobile phone and ends with you using that phone to find one of my four star-rated restaurants within a few blocks of your current location. I don't know that such queries are possible through the platform now. But theoretically, they could be (and it'd be a lot harder to do this with unstructured data).
It's like a blogging tool, but for content where structure makes more more sense than unstructured blogs. Once the structure is there, a lot of other things are possible that aren't really possible with standard blogs. For example, your audience could come in and sort or search the blogs based on some field of data (like how many stars you gave the movie). You can add user ratings (like what YouTube has) and your readers could sort or search on that.
The video above is of me speaking with Westheimer and getting the demo. Check it out!