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ITA, Google & The Future of DIY Data Mining Tools

April 8th, 2011 04:00 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

The US Department of Justice appears to have made a deal with Google that would allow it to acquire ITA Software, a company that provides airline data to travel search engines, for $700 million with a list of conditions. A long list of industry players opposed the deal but Google will be required to continue offering data to other search engines for a number of years, at a “reasonable price.” Opponents argue that the move will raise travel prices and stifle innovation. Google says it will not raise prices and that its engineers working with ITA’s engineers, instead of just the data they produce, will lead to an increase in innovation in travel technology.

Over on the sidelines, one of my favorite websites in the world is now in Google’s hands. Needlebase is a point-and-click data extraction tool that recommends merges and allows for data to be visualized in multiple ways including as maps. It was built as a side-project by ITA engineers. I haven’t been a technology blogger for the years that I have because I am moved much by news that could cause air travelers to pay a few hundred dollars more per year. I’m moved by technology that puts formerly inaccessible skills into the hands of everyday people to create beautiful things. Needlebase is like the WordPress or YouTube of data extraction and manipulation. If Google kills it I’m going to be very upset.

I’m not the only blogger who’s been excited about this service. Liz Gannes wrote first about it, saying: “Needlebase, as it’s known, is a nifty way to give structure to disorganized and constantly changing information on any topic.” If you know Liz you know that is about as excited as she gets about websites. (She’s an objective journalist.)

I’m unabashedly excited about Needle, as you can see in the following:

Needlebase: Get This DIY Web Analysis Tool Before Google Does
Our initial review of the product.

DIY Data Tool Needlebase Now Available to Everyone
A round-up of some examples of the things I’ve been able to do with Needlebase.

How to Track the Future of the Music Industry (or Anything Else)

Corporate Social Strategists on Twitter: Looking at the Numbers
Probably my most complex and valuable use of Needlebase yet.

How to Use Twitter Plus Needlebase to Discover Fabulous Things
I built a list of journalists on Twitter with more than 500 followers and living in the South Eastern US. In minutes. And I recorded a screencast here on how to use the tools involved.

Please Google, don’t kill Needlebase. If Web 2.0 was all about enabling anyone to publish content online and if the next stage of the web is all about working with the data from the last wave of publishing tools and from the coming world of connected devices – please let this tool for democratizing working with that data survive and thrive.

Source: ITA, Google & The Future of DIY Data Mining Tools

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