Tantalizing hints of the Knowledge Navigator

Most web presentations of data are designed for passive viewing, not active analysis. For an example of what things could and should be like, check out episode 10 of The Screening Room. At the six-minute mark in that screencast about Dabble DB, a web database, Smallthought's Avi Bryant -- who is analyzing a set of data about investments -- wants to look at investments by U.S. state as a function of population. The current dataset includes states but not their populations. To add population data, Avi visits a website that lists states and populations, activates a JavaScript bookmarklet, and imports two columns from the HTML table on that web page. [Full story at InfoWorld.com]

In the same column, I referred to Doug Purdy's adventure in acquiring and using a list of Fortune 500 company names, and my web reformulation of an Edward Tufte data graphic. It's all compelling stuff, but there's something about Avi Bryant's maneuver that shouts Knowledge Navigator.

In this 90-second excerpt from the screencast, you can see how Avi hoists data right out of a web page and weaves it into a structured view.

So natural, so powerful. How can we not have this capability always and everywhere?

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2006/11/15.html#a1562