A Social Approach to Data

Brendan Kelleher —  April 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

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People are inherently social.  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Spotify, FourSquare.  The social media list goes on.  And while many people avoid social media for reasons ranging from privacy concerns (more on this later) to not wanting to know what everyone is doing 24 hours a day (everyone has a friend or two who are social media spammers), the overall popularity of these sites indicates an almost unquenchable thirst for socializing, sharing, collaborating, and interacting.

What Facebook is to friends and photos, LinkedIn is to colleagues and work connections, and Spotify is to music fans and music, karmadata is to data consumers and data visualizations.  So even while we are heads down, programming, and buried in code, there is always an overriding sentiment in the back of our minds: we are building something social, collaborative, and most importantly, fun.

Another form of online interaction is blogging (like this one), and making data visualizations into mini-blog posts is the inspiration behind where we are heading with our datacard design.  The idea is that each datacard tests or validates a theory, and the user can then publish their insights on karmadata.  We are trying to make datacard creation as personalized, interactive, and fun as possible.  That means creating custom titles, descriptions, x and y-axis labels, and anything else that our user community can come up with.  We do our best to provide users with the basics, but our vision is that our users will take the value of the datacards to another level.  That means that an auto-generated y-axis of “# of Clinical Trials” can be quickly altered to “# of Phase III Leukemia Trials”.  Editing filters, seeing how it affects the data, customizing the metadata.  All of this should be fun.

That’s the fun part.  The social part is sharing that mini-blog with your friends and colleagues, engaging in comments back and forth, and leveraging the expertise of each other to answer questions and solve problems.  Or it can be finding a datacard that someone else has already created that answers the same question that you have.  This sharing and collaboration is the first half of our namesake.  The idea is that you get out of the community what you put into it.  Sharing is good karma.

Now much like the person who wants to “stay off the grid”, we recognize that many data consumers will not want to share because they do not want others seeing what they are interested in.  Many pharma, in particular, have a paranoia about competitors knowing what they are up to, and in many cases these concerns are valid.  But since we want everyone to share, our philosophy is that if you don’t want to share, then you have to pay to avoid sharing.  In such as case, a company can pay for karmadata Plus to unlock functionality for everyone at their company to remain anonymous and closed off from the rest of the community (Plus users also receive other benefits like data download and upload of internal data but that’s a story for another day).

In any case, we ask you to share your ideas with us about how to make the site more fun and social (because that’s good karma).

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