Graphs and data are pretty geeky items to share online. The information conveyed by graphs is useful knowledge, but the methodology to organize and share the right bits of info requires some strong data analysis knowledge. Swivel is here to help you deal with complex spreadsheets, transform them into intelligible graphs, and share it with everyone, or just with designated collaborators. Swivel has a public side where anybody can upload graphs and make them available for the rest of us, and a private corner for businesses wishing to benefit from the Swivel’s technology without sharing their confidential data with the rest of us.
Swivel was created in December 2005 by two physics majors named Dmitry Dimov and Brian Mulloy. They came up with the idea of Swivel while working at GrandCentral at a position that seemingly required a lot of data analysis. The two Founders came to the conclusion that it would be great to create a site for SMBs to manage their data spreadsheets, share it internally or externally, and find great public data on the spot. A Youtube for graphs!
So how does Swivel works? Once signed up, you can freely surf public graphs, through keyword searches, groups of interest, latest uploads, or by checking out a user’s profile that interests you. Just like regular blogging, if you feel you could add value to a graph, you can make comments, Digg it, rate it, send it as an email, post to a blog… The whole enchilada! Swivel is a great place for public institutions like the OECD to share their endless and extremely valuable data with a numbers-minded community.
As mentioned above, Swivel is also a place for businesses to post their graphs and create a private community of users that can remotely collaborate around a company’s private numbers. Called Swivel Business, this private area – right now in free alpha – has a few interesting features: comments, email updates, customization of data streams, find always up-to-date numbers, groups creation, interactive graphs and dashboard customization.
Swivel is led by the philosophy that a business is successful if it has the capacity to integrate its internal data with the external data of the larger world. As Gerad Suyderhoud, Product Manager at Swivel, explains in the video, if your business evolves around newborns, then your business could use public data about infant mortality. Combining public and private data is Swivel’s Graal. While there is no doubt that Swivel crunches numbers like madness to figure out what their users want, the startup’s approach is mostly to rely on the wisdom of the crowds to organize this potentially infinite source of data. In a way, Swivel enables businesses to balance out the internal and external forces in action by knowing the facts and adjusting to it: Swivel makes your business zen.
Beyond what might look like a pretty geeky website, Swivel is on the road to offer an infinitely valuable marketing tool for SMBs that do not have the resources to analyze the external occurrences that affect them. An API is available, but it only allows to upload and download data to the Swivel platform so far. In the longer term, Gerad Suyderhoud says that the API will be way more flexible to turn Swivel into a leading provider of data analytics. Since we are not there yet, the development team already offers a few cool features to make inter-operations with the Swivel platform easy to handle. Check it out!
More info about Swivel:
Data mining: the theory of everything? – super interesting discussion on the Swivel blog
I Swivel Data – The Data Mine Shaft
Take the data language survey – Garry’s Blog
Streams in the Dessert: Lesson # 17 (Swivel and data analysis) – Streams in the Dessert