I’m no fan of Sprint. After they bought Centel in the early 1990s, Charlottesville became one of the few cities in the nation with a long-distance carrier as a local provider. (After the FCC changed their regulations and there was much market reshuffling, this is now standard, of course.) I’ll be happy if I never do business with them again.
That said, their new web-based telephone directory is fantastic. I love it. They have a website where any of their dozens of local directories can be selected and, from there, either the white pages or the yellow pages can be searched or browsed. And when browsing them, they’re not some crappy webified view, but it’s each actual page. Better still, they didn’t just generate huge GIFs of each page, but they’re actual HTML pages with text rendered as text and images as images, all cleanly simulating something almost exactly like the page of the phone book.
Looking for restaurants? No problem. The civic listings at the front of the book? They have them. Want to flip through the white pages? You can do it. They even preserve the little ads that promote recycling your phone book at the end of the year.
Of course, the web isn’t about dumping print on-line. The shape of a printed page is all wrong for a monitor — it should be landscape, not portrait. And the flipping through pages metaphor just isn’t logical on a screen. But there’s something admirable about so this recreation, since it’s been done in such a meticulous and compliant manner. Hopefully, they’ll use this as a launching point, so that they can stop pretending that it’s a printed page, maybe open up an XML-RPC interface so that applications can utilize their data.
In the meantime, though, I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed flipped through a phone book quite so much.