“A YouTube for Data”

If you go to your Web browser and type in www.swivel.com, all you get is a pretty little “coming soon” banner. But if you read about Swivel here on TechCrunch, it sounds like a godsend — or at least a tremendous way to waste time — for data freaks.

Michael Arrington at TechCrunch says that Swivel’s founders describe the forthcoming website as “YouTube for data,” but it’s really much better than that. Here, according to Arrington, is how Swivel will work:

[T]he site allows users to upload data — any data — and display it to other users visually. The number of page views your website generates. Or a stock price over time. Weather data. Commodity prices. The number of Bald Eagles in Washington state. Whatever. Uploaded data can be rated, commented and bookmarked by other users, helping to sort the interesting (and accurate) wheat from the chaff. And graphs of data can be embedded into websites. So it is in fact a bit like a YouTube for Data.

But then the real fun begins. You and other users can then compare that data to other data sets to find possible correlation (or lack thereof). Compare gas prices to presidential approval ratings or UFO sightings to iPod sales. Track your page views against weather reports in Silicon Valley. See if something interesting occurs.

And better yet, Swivel will be automatically comparing your data to other data sets in the background, suggesting possible correlations to you that you may never have noticed.

Academic types are going to go nuts over this. I spent a summer in college running regression analysis models on economic data. Being able to simply upload data to Swivel and then begin to slice and dice the data would have saved a lot of time. And being able to compare our data to what others were doing in related fields could have yielded results that we would never have aimed for. Big companies, small companies, think tanks and non-classified government organizations are going to be similarly dazzled.

Swivel is putting significant computing power behind the scenes to run the data analysis. “We use farms of powerful computers and algorithms at the Swivel data centers to transform a lonely grid of numbers and letters into hundreds – sometimes thousands – of graphs that can be explored and compared with any other public data in Swivel.”

The possibilities seem endless. As do the deceptions. I wonder, e.g., how long it takes for people to start uploading fake data to fool competitors.

(Thanks to Pete Davias and Trey Ratcliff for the tip, and to Mike Arrington for the nice write-up.)


prosa

"Coming soon" on a website is similar to "Closed for renovations" in a restaurant's window. It's a safe bet that the restaurant will never reopen, and it's at least a semi-safe bet that the website will never be up. I'll believe Swivel when I see it.

wesleyb41

I could really get excited about the possibility of a site like that. Here's to hoping Swivel is up and running soon. I wonder if there will be any freakonomics.com related data, i.e. which topics solicit the most comments, book sales in relation to comments on the site, etc....

barneycoopersmith

Wouldn't the threat of 'bad' or 'deceptive' data be somewhat regulated by the rating system being proposed?
Very cool project--I hope it gets off the ground.

nerdynerdelson

"Big companies, small companies, think tanks and non-classified government organizations are going to be similarly dazzled."

In theory, but I would be suprised if many of these types of organizations (particularly companies) post data to the site for all to see. I think the utility of the tool will be limited to the "academic types".

brianmulloy

Hi there,

Thanks for the post on Swivel. Folks have picked up on YouTube for data, but Dmitry, my cofounder, and I have much humbler ambitions. We both dig data and we have a team of folks here who love data too. Our goal is to build a Web site that we can get absolutely lost in for hours while exploring data and making crazy correlations. We're hard at work right now tweaking performance bugs (they're a real pain). We're likely going to miss some, but hope that folks who really love data will stick with us through the hard times. Stay tuned and please swing on over to Swivel once we launch.

Brian Mulloy
CEO & Cofounder
www.swivel.com

brianmulloy

Prosa,

I am skeptical too, but that's only because I wrote some of the code in Swivel. :-) Please, wish us luck.

Brian Mulloy
CEO & Cofounder
www.swivel.com

AKecon

I read about this site and start salivating. I'm such a dork! Here's hoping you can pull this off Brian. Best of luck.

girish.mallapragada

It is awesome to be able to explore such correlations. I will probably be one of the first guys to wallow around once the site opens.

dbswinford

Gotta Have It!!!

@6: Pullleeeze tell us (non-academic types) when we can start; I can out-salivate dogs already ;-)

May I suggest that your website include a way to grab email addy's of potential "early adopters"? I'd sign up in a second, but if it falls off of "the top of my mind", it might get broken, and I'd guess that would be bad for both of us.

Best wishes for the success of your implementation of a brilliant idea.

nimishbatra

"how long it takes for people to start uploading fake data to fool competitors."

Why would anyone want to believe uncited data? That would be like telling the examiner in a theory exam that you study from wikipedia.

The bigger danger, I'd say, is people believing whatever is put up. Just like the way digg front page stories are of a greater percentage of spam these days.

prosa

"Coming soon" on a website is similar to "Closed for renovations" in a restaurant's window. It's a safe bet that the restaurant will never reopen, and it's at least a semi-safe bet that the website will never be up. I'll believe Swivel when I see it.

wesleyb41

I could really get excited about the possibility of a site like that. Here's to hoping Swivel is up and running soon. I wonder if there will be any freakonomics.com related data, i.e. which topics solicit the most comments, book sales in relation to comments on the site, etc....

barneycoopersmith

Wouldn't the threat of 'bad' or 'deceptive' data be somewhat regulated by the rating system being proposed?
Very cool project--I hope it gets off the ground.

nerdynerdelson

"Big companies, small companies, think tanks and non-classified government organizations are going to be similarly dazzled."

In theory, but I would be suprised if many of these types of organizations (particularly companies) post data to the site for all to see. I think the utility of the tool will be limited to the "academic types".

brianmulloy

Hi there,

Thanks for the post on Swivel. Folks have picked up on YouTube for data, but Dmitry, my cofounder, and I have much humbler ambitions. We both dig data and we have a team of folks here who love data too. Our goal is to build a Web site that we can get absolutely lost in for hours while exploring data and making crazy correlations. We're hard at work right now tweaking performance bugs (they're a real pain). We're likely going to miss some, but hope that folks who really love data will stick with us through the hard times. Stay tuned and please swing on over to Swivel once we launch.

Brian Mulloy
CEO & Cofounder
www.swivel.com

brianmulloy

Prosa,

I am skeptical too, but that's only because I wrote some of the code in Swivel. :-) Please, wish us luck.

Brian Mulloy
CEO & Cofounder
www.swivel.com

AKecon

I read about this site and start salivating. I'm such a dork! Here's hoping you can pull this off Brian. Best of luck.

girish.mallapragada

It is awesome to be able to explore such correlations. I will probably be one of the first guys to wallow around once the site opens.

dbswinford

Gotta Have It!!!

@6: Pullleeeze tell us (non-academic types) when we can start; I can out-salivate dogs already ;-)

May I suggest that your website include a way to grab email addy's of potential "early adopters"? I'd sign up in a second, but if it falls off of "the top of my mind", it might get broken, and I'd guess that would be bad for both of us.

Best wishes for the success of your implementation of a brilliant idea.

nimishbatra

"how long it takes for people to start uploading fake data to fool competitors."

Why would anyone want to believe uncited data? That would be like telling the examiner in a theory exam that you study from wikipedia.

The bigger danger, I'd say, is people believing whatever is put up. Just like the way digg front page stories are of a greater percentage of spam these days.