I found out about the Brownbook site because someone named Ben emailed me about it.
Think Wikipedia, but for a business directory format. The Brownbook tagline is “the open yellow pages”. That tells me exactly what the purpose of the site is and I think it’s one of those things that just makes sense. One of those, “Doh! Why didn’t I think of that?”.
The Brownbook is a free and open wiki-type ‘local business directory’ site that lets consumers add and find local businesses, rate them and add reviews. Its an international platform – we’ve launched in UK and will be going USA, Canada, and Australia in the next two months.
Like Wikipedia anyone can instantly edit anything. We aim to do for the local directory market what Wikipedia is doing for the encyclopedia market (but without the arcane syntax); namely, to provide a service that grows to be more valuable than the existing local directory services; that allows people to have their say; that anyone can use for free, and that lets even the smallest business promote itself at zero cost.
Right now they haven’t released in the US yet, but it makes sense to me and I think something like this could really take off. The problem will be whether or not the community grows fast enough or is passionate enough to self-monitor and maintain the information without making it all irrelevant.