11
Jan
08

Data360 needs a lot of work

Nathan Yau’s critique of Data360 at FlowingData is right on target.  The site is well-intended, but the technical execution is exceptionally poor.

Data360 was launched in 2006, preceding Swivel and Many Eyes by a few months, but has received much less attention than either of these.  For good reason: both Swivel and Many Eyes represent vastly better execution of open data analysis than Data360.

Data360 was created by a team from Webster Pacific, a small consulting firm in San Francisco headed by Tom Paper.  Webster Pacific provides business strategy assistance to small businesses.  They are not a technology firm, and the lack of technical sophistication shows on the Data360 site.
On a positive note, Data360 has a more substantial representation of data sources than appears to be the case either on Swivel or Many Eyes.  Most data items are annotated with metadata that includes links directly to the source URL.  Data360 also seems to allow you to assemble larger datasets from constituent components across different sources.  This is a valuable first step towards supporting interesting analytical tasks within the service.
 
Unfortunately, these highlights are heavily outweighed by the shortcomings of the site.  The UI is unintelligible, navigation is confusing, terminology is cryptic, and the chart visualizations are just awful (we’ve been able to do better in Excel for many years now).

Perhaps Data360 is of some use to Webster Pacific’s other business activities.  As a consumer service, it would benefit by being stripped down to those features where it has something to offer.  As Nathan pointed other, Data360 offers no advantage over using and emailing Excel spreadsheets.

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