The Data Explosion

When the web became mainstream back in the early 90’s it was all about the destination. The goal was to get visitors to your site and then hope they never leave. You bookmarked your favorite sites so you could easily get to the 4-5 sites that you’d visit everyday. Everything was separate and although everything was “connected” through the web there weren’t many strong ties from one site to another.

The web in 2011 is no longer about the destination. It’s about the data created by all of us that’s flowing through hundreds of different sites and apps. Blogs, social media, and RSS have completely changed the landscape. The major tech blogs like Mashable, Techcrunch, and ReadWriteWeb are starting to take notice of the major role that data is starting to play on the web. Take a look at some of their most recent posts:

Using Big Data and Analytics to Automate the Sales Cycle

Making Data Relevant: New Metrics for Social Marketing

Why We Invested in Groupon: The Power of Data

Two of the most popular services on the web are Facebook and Twitter, and the more popular these sites become the more valuable data skills are. Both of these sites produce massive amounts of data, and they also cater to developers to make the data open and accessible. What we need now is a simple tool for consumers to analyze and report on this data. A familiar interface might be a spreadsheet where users could quickly make calculations and summaries on a set of data. I think Google Spreadsheets is a good start, but limitations on the size of data sets and calls to web services prevent it from performing certain analyses.

What kind of tools do you use to analyze data on the web and what kinds of interesting applications have you seen from others?

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