Google is collecting zillion of data as they are posts on the Web, Twitter gets the pulse of the world and let you search into billions of short messages creating a quilt of people’s mood.
Factual, on the other hand, collects “fact” from around the world and lets you use them.
They have already amassed over 500 TB of data that are being used by thousands of customers.
The data present information on 60 million places in 50 countries, each described by 17 to 40 attributes; 800,000 restaurants; and data on the offices, specialties and insurance preferences of 1.8 million United States health care professionals. And, of course, they keep growing in quantity and variety.
The interesting thing is the overall architectural approach. Factual intends to become a hub linking thousands of data clouds, based on the assumption that data will continue to grow locally, in business, in communities and in personal spaces. Actually, the forecast for 2012 year end is 2.7 Zettabyte of data on the Web.
Factual makes these data available through its website organized in various categories and through APIs so that one can create applications and then sell them. The access to data is provided for free with certain limitations.
My feeling is that we are going to see more and more companies opening up their data and intermediaries offering tools to simplify access, manipulation and representation of data. In five years time our cell phones, and in ten years time our ambient, will become windows on a data landscape that will look different depending on who and why is looking at it. And that will change our relationship with the Web. We will no longer be searching, rather we will be living in a data space.