Blist Social Database Offers Relational-Style Strengths - InformationWeek
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1/28/2008
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Blist Social Database Offers Relational-Style Strengths

At the Demo 08 show in Palm Desert this week, the company sets out to popularize its version of an online "to-do" binary list.

Blist looks like a spreadsheet and acts like a database. It's a new form of easy-to-use database being launched Tuesday to generate either personal or shared databases in an online, social environment.

Blist can be used to create a personal investment list or a shared online wedding guest list database, says founder and CEO Kevin Merritt. It organizes data in rows and columns, like a spreadsheet, but data can be added by filling out a simple form that can be activated outside the database as a widget. Once the form is filled out with a predefined set of data, it can be dragged to an open Blist database and, by clicking on the "submit" or "post action" button, the data is automatically added.

The data is searchable through a Lens Builder tool that in effect prompts a user to construct a SQL query, filling in blanks labeled "Criteria" and "Sector" without using the SQL data access language. The query is constructed in background and run against the underlying database to pull together related data, Merritt said in an advance demonstration of the system.

Blist, pronounced like the first syllable of blister, will launch tomorrow 2:38 p.m. at the Demo 08 show in Palm Desert, Calif. Merritt hopes the name will become a generic term for binary list, just as binary log became blog in the Web's lexicon. Blist is a more general-purpose version of such online to-do lists as Ta-da List or Remember The Milk, with a relational database data handling characteristics added.

The idea of a social database system is also central to Blist. It's available online to a select group of users, and prospects may register now to become part of an expanded user base at the end of the first quarter.

Samples of data may be pulled out of a personal database, such as views on key elements of an NBA game, political contest, or sales strategy; encapsulated as a widget; and shared on the Internet with other Blist users, Merritt said. A blogger making use of Blist widgets would allow his readers to refer back to the main data source, letting them review data beyond his widget sample and allowing them to post more views.

"We're trying to democratize database use," he said.

No pricing for use of the Blist database has been announced.

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