This is a guest post by Daniel Cave.
With the rise of social media sharing, collaboration and a increasingly interested market for data, there are more and more people wanting to ‘play with data’ and learn using some basics free tools. So recently I’ve been trying to find a technically advanced and interesting combination of free tools to collect and visualise web data that will allow enthusiasts and students to get those all important initial quick and easy wins.
One good combination I’ve found is Silk.co and Import.io. We all know what import.io is, but what is Silk?
Silk is a place to publish your collections. A ‘Silk’ lets you add structure to your information and gives you many ways to filter and visualize your content. We built Silk because we believe that knowledge should be organized.
A Silk site lets you answer questions with your data by creating overviews and visualisations.
Looking at the amsterdam based Saas Provider it’s features are promising, and the examples are solid.
This example from the British newspaper The Guardian which shows some of the potential. https://guardian.silk.co/
However, after using it for a while, you do start to get the impression the tool is doing something good when you click ‘explore’. This view allows you to manipulate the data in such a way as to find additional insight. In the image below I play with The Guardians data to show a view specific subset of the asylum seekers data in a table.
The maps feature works very well and I managed to expose this view in under 30 seconds.
The data exploration ideas are surprisingly powerful to get quick and simple views on data within your browser.
Review Summary of Silk.co
As with any data viz package, you only get out of it what you put in. If you put good quality data into the product you may just enjoy pivoting the data around, and creating quick and interesting views on the data. You might even enjoy sharing the data with others and seeing what they make of it.
Ultimately this is not a BigData analysis platform and you are not going to use it to analyse millions of data points, but it is a fun, quick, and social data visualisation tool that I hope will encourage people to start an enjoyable career in data.
For the casual non-programming data consumer, taking data from an import.io Crawler output as an CSV, with Silk, is a rapid way to get some quick wins.
Image modified from: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/856856/?forcedownload=1
URL for Silk: https://www.silk.co/about
Twitter for Silk: @silkdotco
Twitter for importio: @import.io
URL for Import.io: http://import.io