Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Zoetrope

Eytan Adar's latest project is Zoetrope, a way of interacting with a web page's history. Rather than just seeing what's currently on a web page, Zoetrope let's you easily rewind to previous versions of that page.

Some of the applications mentioned in his video at http://www.cond.org/zoetrope.html are for viewing how a value on a web page changes over time, for example:

* Stock price
* Movie rating
* Gas prices (e.g. on gas buddy)

What is the relationship between gas prices and oil prices is a question that could be answered because it allows you to see how those values relate to each other. The video describes a really rich scenario for exploring relationships between data.

What if the correlations between changes in time-series data though could be automatically detected? What if we had the ability to mine the web for time-series data and automatically detect which events seem to be causing other events?

What's needed is a uniform data structure for representing time series data. Then we'd need to crawl the web and map the data into that format. Zoetrope adds another element to this wherein time series data is captured by monitoring the changes in a website over time.

I think it is very cool that Eytan is using the term "lens" to talk about ways of viewing data harvested off of the web. At NetBase, we use the term lens also, but for viewing data extracted through our semantic analysis.

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