Swivel launched earlier this week, positioning itself as "YouTube for Data".
Swivel is an open site that allows users to post any type of data, then run various cross-tabulations and statistical analyses to be shared with the overall community.
Swivel makes it easy to instantly create charts and graphs that mash up disparate data series. For example, here's one that was posted that shows the (inverse) correlation between wine consumption and crime in the U.S. Is it statistically significant? Probably not, but I'll pour myself an extra glass of zin at dinner tonight just in case.
Swivel has a community-oriented freemium business model. You can upload any data that you'd like for free, as long as you make it accessible to other users. They will soon launch a professional (paid) version where your data will be secure and private. The data sets can be tagged, making it easier to find what you're looking for. Users can also rate and make comments on the various charts created, so you can view the highest rated or most commented on graphs.
Will Swivel be the next YouTube? Their audience is obviously more narrowly focused. After all, anyone can enjoy watching a guy in a Santa suit fall off the garage roof onto his truck, but only data geeks will get kicks from mashing up time series data. So, while I'd consider them more of a playground for stats junkies, the YouTube for Data comparison is probably better for their valuation (I'm sure VCs are getting inundated with business plans from companies calling themselves "YouTube for X"). As of now, they've only got about 1,150 data sets up there, but that number is sure to grow.
What's the impact for publishers?
Database and information publishers are great at showing the micro-level, but often ignore the macro-level data that can be compiled from their data. If you're tracking revenues, budgets, number of employees, product prices, weather, exports or any other quantitative data, you can probably create some interesting analyses. These cross-tabulations are great press release fodder; by giving your users access to the Swivel platform, they'll create their own unique content. Many publisher's instincts will be to keep their data private so they control the analysis. But the smart publishers will open their content up to the community and see the creative reports generated by users.