Thursday, December 07, 2006

Late night snack

Hello from the Hilton in Downtown Nashville. It's like 3AM here and freezing, I mean absolutely frigid. Can I just say that I live in the best state in the entire universe? Except the state of bliss, now that's a place you want to buy a timeshare! (It's past midnight, we're fresh out of wit, all we got left are stale puns).

I wasn't going to post because I never get around to posting when I'm not at home anyways (heck, I never post when I'm out of town; even when I promise to post) so why break the trend now.

But here's a late night tidbit just for you. Found an interesting little site via a tip from my friend JB. If you like data and graphs and numbers and all those things that make normal people squint their eyes and reassess the value of your friendship vs. the degradation of their coolness by being in your proximity... then check out It's Web 2.0 meets random data elements. Looks to be a pretty interesting concept.

My main concern is the reliability of data. Usually, people will believe anything in a graph if they think it's remotely plausible. Once information or misinformation is out there, it's really hard to control or pull back. If you think trans fat is dangerous, think about the problems a misleading graph about health risks, investment strategies, brand perceptions/sales, or blog popularity (Branded Newb is the number one online marketing blog on the fourth Tuesday of all months ending in "er". It's true, look it up!) could do to susceptible people.

Swivels seems to be based on people submitting data and then remixing it into insightful or silly visuals. However, is this site going to work if it doesn't run on pure facts but on "social facts" such as what makes Wikipedia work? What I'm calling social facts are not factual per se, they're democratically factual. Just check out all the back and forth that happens in Wikipedia on hot topics like evolution, global warming and the 23rd President of the United States (Benjamin Harrison... or so the "government" would like you to believe).

If the community actually takes the time to monitor data integrity, then I think this has potential to be a really cool resource. If not, well then, I've got a couple data points correlating blog commenting with material wealth. You better get a head start.

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