Tuesday 2 March 2010

Oracle, Data-visualisation and Twitter

Recently Patrick Wolf talked about following Oracle Apex on Twitter. I still haven't decided whether I should take the plunge and open up a Twitter account - I can see the value of keeping the finger on the proverbial pulse of the industry; keeping in touch with industry colleagues that I may only normally see/catch up with at User Group events; and I'm sure the massive flow-on of connections that seems to happen when social media accounts are opened - but perhaps I keep up with all this in a satisfactory manner already, without having to subscribe to another social networking site.

For the time being I still follow some Twitter accounts with my RSS feeder. I also believe it's still a source of valuable information that's yet to be tapped to it's full extent.

In the "Explore" section of Google Reader (I recommend it - a bit like iTunes Genius for your RSS feeds), I encountered a great article illustrating Four Ways of Looking at Twitter. Immediately I saw the potential and relevance to my older post - and I think it's just a matter of finding the right keywords, or the right niche market to tap this massive social pulse.

The first two in particular caught my eye and I thought I'd have a quick play.

Twitter Venn might show some good visuals, but I think I'm yet to find some good search terms.
For me, Twitter Spectrum showed immediate potential. Just out of curiosity, I thought I'd see where the relevance lay between Oracle and SQL Server.
Then I wondered if you could use it as more of a marketing strategy to find how people are searching for information, or what particular key words might help your business out in regard to reaching your customers.

Hmm, does this mean Apex Training and blogging go hand in hand?

Data visualisation seems to be a growing industry. Information is Beautiful by David McCandless is a great way to illustrate "a picture paints a thousand words" - as long as the data is precise. His recent post on "When Sea Levels Attack" was criticised for it's inaccuracy. Visualisation sometimes needs a little artistic licence, but obvious mistakes can quickly cast doubt on your information - good thing our databases do a good job at maintaining integrity (as long as we have a good designer on hand).

So much data is now available for us to search, it's just a matter of harnessing it, then translating into a diagram - and even for us database developers is becoming more accessible. I've recently been having a fiddle with the Javascript InfoVis Toolkit. Using a combination of my Oracle database; Application Express; processes; shortcuts; and some basic Javascript knowledge, I've started to produce some pretty clean & nifty pages.

All this really generates more questions than answers, but for me two major questions remain
a) Should I open a Twitter account ?
b) what are some search terms that show some interesting results with these tools ?

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