Econ 101b: Fall 2006: Problem Set 1
Econ 101b: Fall 2006: More Notes for August 29 Lecture

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 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: