Monday, February 27, 2006

B2B mash-ups and rich data

I'm still waiting to see someone in the B2B media world embrace the idea of the mash-up by allowing readers to rebuild and recraft content.
I would guess that the most obvious -- and potentially the most lucrative -- area for this would be in data. B2B publishers are increasingly turning to data as a way to boost revenue, as Russell Perkins at InfoCommerce has noted. Smart executives at B2B companies have a new appreciation of the revenue potential of those endless databases filled with what is now called "rich data." But what few seem to have noticed yet is the creative potential of rich data.

When I worked at Bloomberg News, I was mesmerized by the volumes of stocks and bonds data that was available to me. And my terminal, just like the terminals used by Bloomberg's customers, allowed me to run myriad functions to track, predict or examine a market. And with a simple click or two of my keyboard, I could create graphic representations of my findings and attach them to a news story. (Note: If you're interested in visual storytelling and you don't have a Bloomberg terminal, you can take a look at some of the simpler functions that can be run by non-customers here. And there are other companies that provide complex visualizations of data that are worth studying, such as this one.)

Few B2B companies have the resources available to develop better, more interesting, more fun and useful ways to look at rich data. But the world is full of people with the technical and creative skills to do exactly that. I've said before that I have my doubts that most B2B publishers have the interest or the courage to allow mash-ups. But I expect that sometime soon some B2B publisher, braver and smarter than his competitors, will let outside Web developers start playing with the data.

In the meantime, I'll watch the fun at the Washington Post, which has embraced the mash-up culture. And I'll amuse myself by playing with the 10 Best Flickr Mashups, including the one that let me build this:

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tags: , , , , , conversational media

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