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To all our users, friends and followers:
Thanks for a wonderful year of data and joy,
The DataMarket Nerds
Slides from a presentation I did at the Data Scientist Seminar Series in Boston, December 3 2012.
Note that most of the images are links to relevant data, technologies or additional information, so click around!
Below are the slides from my presentation “Best Practices for Publishing Data” given at the Strata Conference in New York, October 2012.
The slide deck includes a lot of links to additional resources, so go ahead and click around.
Note that this is an enlarged and improved slide deck from a presentation with the same title from Strata London.
Last week DataMarket introduced a new product, an energy specific data service called simply: DataMarket – Energy
The venue at which we introduced the service was quite unusual. We were lucky enough to be invited – along with a selected group of other startups and innovators working with energy data – to present our work at the White House at an event called Energy Datapalooza. We have since jokingly said that in order to top this venue for our next product announcement, we will have to book the International Space Station. I’m working on that.
Here’s a short video of my presentation there and the unveiling of our new service:
For those of you that have been following DataMarket for a while, you will notice that the business model for this new product is significantly different from what we have previously been running with.
When we originally kicked DataMarket.com off with international data early 2011, there was only one thing users could pay us for: A low-priced premium subscription that gave access to additional features, such as more advanced data export formats, automated reports and a few other things. A couple of months later we added the first premium data to the site; data from premium data providers such as the Economist Intelligence Unit (links to EIU data on DataMarket), resold through our site.
However, using the site’s core functionality – the ability to search, visualize, compare, and download data from the vast collections of Open Data that we aggregate – has always been free. As such, DataMarket.com has become quite popular in certain circles. But quite frankly, the two revenue sources have not taken off in a big way.
What has however taken off is our technology licensing business. We’ve seen high demand for our data delivery technology from other information companies. The ability to normalize data from a wide variety of data sources, and enable users to access that data through powerful search and online visualization tools is something many information companies, such as market research and financial data companies, have identified a strong need for. So last February we formally introduced our data publishing tools, most prominently what we now call the Data Delivery Engine, a white-label solution that is already up and running for a few well know information companies, (including Yankee Group and Lux Research) with several other in the implementation stages. This licensing business is where most of our revenues comes from today, so one could really say that we’re now more of a software company than a data company.
The upcoming launch of DataMarket – Energy is another stab at the data side of the equation, but the approach is different in several ways:
- Focus and scope: By focusing on a single industry or vertical we can make the service much more relevant to its users. Instead of solving 10-15% of everybody’s data needs with the kind of macro-economic and demographic data that can be accessed on DataMarket.com, we aim to address 90-100% of the data needs of a much more targeted audience.
- Premium access: We’re selling access to this service at a substantial premium (final pricing is still being decided). Those that see value in the discovery and aggregation services that we add on top of the data will be charged for the “job they hire our product to do”. This indeed means that some data that has been made publicly available for free (Open Data) will only be available to DataMarket users behind a paywall. As explained in the presentation above, that doesn’t take the least bit away from the value of the Open Data. On the contrary: The data is still available in its original form from the publishing organizations, but we add a choice on top of that: A nicer and more user friendly way to access the data for those that are willing to pay for that value-add.
- Targeted sales: Instead of relying as much on PR and viral distribution as we have with DataMarket.com, we’ll use more direct, traditional sales approaches for this new service.
One of the interesting things about running a technology startup is that the same technology can be turned into so many different products without a single line of additional code. Often the only difference is how you promote it, price it and sell it. This can be both a curse and a blessing, and usually a few things need to be thrown at the wall before you find what sticks. Luck is involved too, but as the famous
Norwegian Swedish alpine skier Ingemar Stenmark is quoted saying: “The more I practice, the luckier I get“.
It will be interesting to see if we’ve practiced our data marketing skills enough for the DataMarket – Energy approach to work out.
Slides from a presentation given by Hjalmar Gislason, founder and CEO of DataMarket at Strata Conference in London, October 2012
I have seen my share of good charts and I have seen my share of bad charts, but I never expected what I saw today.
As you may know, Hjalli and I are writing a book about chart design. We will guide you through choosing the best chart for your story, and to create beautiful and effective charts. The book will be aimed at those who want, or need, to get a chart out there but aren’t that interested in the why’s. We start by looking at the charts the big boys do by default and go from there, examining the parts and how to improve them.
The first chapter about chart design is about tables, which was fun to write. There was more to say than we expected.
The next chapter focuses on line charts, where I used Numbers, Excel and DataGraph to create default versions of a line chart. As I knew, there were things that could be better designed in the default versions of all applications. None of the defaults is useable in our opinion. Numbers the least.
Today, I dove into the details of my bar chart design. Called up the author of DataGraph to discuss moving axis labels by a pixel. Stared at my screen for half an hour, wondering if I want to keep the x axis on the bar chart or not. Then I opened up Numbers and Excel to create the defaults. DataGraph was already open, since I can almost do perfect charts in it already. So I started with the DataGraph default. It disappointed me a bit. The y axis didn’t automatically label my bars. Other than that, it was not pretty but useable. Numbers, to be fair, does automatically label the bars.
Next up was Numbers. At first glance it looked fine, the color of the bars was okay and the bars were labeled correctly. As I checked off items in the designing-a-bar-chart list in my head, everything seemed fine. Until it didn’t. At all.
In disbelief, I went straight to Excel to see if this alarm went off there as well. It did. And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. I felt like George Taylor in the Planet of the apes: “You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!”
They didn’t include the zero on the x axis! This is no small omission. Their default bar chart is a lie! When comparing the bars, you must compare the full length of the bars.
You can tell both applications to include the zero, but that should not be needed. Creating a bar or column chart without the zero on the axis shouldn’t even be possible. This is worse than a 3D pie chart.
There, I’ve said it.
Ever since before starting DataMarket back in 2008, I’ve been collecting funny, insightful and thought-provoking quotes about data and information. Here is my current list of top 11 favorites:
11. Many have tried to describe the importance of data in industrial, or even agricultural terms
Data are becoming the new raw material of business
- Craig Mundie, head of research and strategy, Microsoft
Data is the new oil!
- Clive Humby, ANA Senior marketer’s summit, 2006
Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine,”
- Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner
Data is the new oil? No: Data is the new soil.
- David McCandless, TEDGlobal, 2010
10. …others in terms of previous breakthroughs in IT
Data is the Next Intel Inside
- Tim O’Reilly, What Is Web 2.0
9. The love of data visualization is not new
There is a magic in graphs. The proﬁle of a curve reveals in a ﬂash a whole situation — the life history of an epidemic, a panic, or an era of prosperity. The curve informs the mind, awakens the imagination, convinces.
- Henry D. Hubbard, 1939
8. First we have data…
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.
- Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlett (Arthur Conan Doyle)
7. …the rest is built on top
You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.
6. He may not have always played by the book, but he knew what was needed to get the job done
The most valuable commodity I know of is information.
- Gordon Gekko, Wall Street (1987)
5. A reminder to be careful in your analysis and don’t stretch to get the results you’d like
Torture the data, and it will confess to anything
- Ronald Coase, Economics, Nobel Prize Laureate
4. People take good care of data that is important to them
Data that is loved tends to survive
- Kurt Bollacker, Data Scientist, Freebase/Infochimps
3. …and – as most good things – it just improves with age
Data matures like wine, applications like fish
2. What use are statistics any way?
In times like these when unemployment rates are up to 13%, income has fallen by 5% and suicide rates are climbing I get so angry that the government is wasting money on things like collection of statistics!
- From Hans Rosling’s The Joy of Stats
1. Finally, my very favorite data quote (and principle in life)
If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.
- Jim Barksdale, former Netscape CEO
Additional submissions welcomed in comments below. What are your favorite data quotes?