The online directory of the Zimbabwe’s sole fixed line operator, is by far one of the most useful websites locally providing business phone numbers and addresses. It’s the go to web destination to locate businesses. But it’s also far from perfect as a tool to connect to businesses, having no way for business owners to update their information, no maps to help with directions, no way to search for a business whose name you don’t know, and information limited to just the addresses and phone numbers.
You could argue of course that the directory was originally never meant to provide any more than just what it does now, but that would be to ignore that it’s been published on the internet to serve a purpose and so far it’s falling short. A new online business directory in beta by a company called Sweetmellon Publishers realises this and is out to fix it. Using TelOne’s own data. And they are not stopping there; they’re even planning to lunch their own physical business directory in just 2 months.
We came upon Sweetmellon’s theDirectory a few days ago and noticed there was something different about it; It is that unlike other such new projects, this one has data, lots of it. Searches you do actually yield results. It’s so much listed businesses just need to verify their entries and maybe add more information. Looking at the data they have we could see the data was scrapped off the TelOne online directory, or off a site that scrapped it off TelOne. Point is being it’s TelOne data.
This clearly makes theDirectory more useful that TelOne’s directory. And since they seem to understand the internet much more than TelOne so far, this could actually work very well for them. The only mistake we noticed is that they scrapped everything including individual (non-business) data resulting in a lot of people’s addresses being on the site. We suspect they couldn’t differentiate. Their argument here could be that the data is already public so no one should complain.
TelOne and Directory Publishers will probably be unhappy with this model of course. Directory Publishers has its own Yellow Pages website that it outsourced to local web company and judging by the time it’s been online against its usefulness so far, the polite way to put it is it hasn’t been a resounding success.