I Want My Live Embedded Data!
Chris Anderson writes:
The Long Tail: Google Apps and the power of embedded functionality: There been a lot of talk today about Google releasing a suite of hosted applications.... As Anil Dash discusses here, these web-based apps are not meant to replace Office but to compliment it by doing things online that desktop software just can't do well. What might those things be? I think we have a hint in the spread of embedded video, courtesy of YouTube. The ability to easily embed into any blog page a full-featured videoplayer dedicated to a single video is a large part of YouTube's success. It doesn't require you to go elsewhere or download anything--it just works.
Now imagine the same model working for data. Rather than me posting static jpeg charts and links to Excel spreadsheet files, what if I could post data the way I post videos: as an embedded mini-app that simply displays the data in a useful way, allowing readers to manipulate or copy it at will?... That's what I want. Not an online spreadsheet that simply replicates what Excel already does perfectly well on my laptop, but small spreadsheet elements that I can paste... in the form of a specific data set or graph. The fact that they're hosted elsewhere is what would make them simple enough to use, just as embedding YouTube video is so head-slapping easy today....
The embedded functionality era has just begun. YouTube is just the start of something much bigger.
Indeed. I had thought by now that I would be able to simply embed the spreadsheet at http://delong.typepad.com/print/20060829_Solow_growth.xls in my online lecture notes, so that people could easily see and then do their own Solow growth model calculations. But it hasn't happened--although I strongly suspect Google or Microsoft will make it possible by this time next year.
YouTube is not the only example of this working now. Consider gapminder: http://tools.google.com/gapminder/