Thinking about a first project
The Internet has enabled us to flood ourselves with data. To make sense of this all, we have to be able to prioritize and summarize what we look at. We have a lot of web tools and web services to help us, but not surprisingly, most of it is text based — and sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.
For those pictures, we already have many vertical market sites which provide great charts (http://finance.yahoo.com/ being one common example for stocks, etc.). What we don’t have is a service — and a business model to support it — to bring this kind of data visualization to the “long tail” of other data on the internet. Charting for things like: bugs or checkins to open source projects, historical government spending, census data, or the # of daily classified job postings in your field etc, etc.
In order for that to happen, you’d need a freely available service which lets you point it at data, generate nice charts and visualizations, and have them be hosted so you can link to them from web pages, blogs, wikis, discussion boards, etc.
This is not a big business — there are limits to how much this visualization is worth to people. And for one-off stuff, you can always hand data to your buddy who is handy with Excel. But it’s a nice niche, and it’s part of a much larger category of knowledge mangement and data mining tools, which is an area of work which I love for some reason, and keep getting drawn back to.
What do you think — is this something you could ever imagine using (or seeing someone else use)?
But ideas are cheap — it’s really all about execution. For that, see coming posts.