Well-formed data posted about a new Freebase project named Parallax. This new search interface takes faceted browsing another step – in this case making it easy to jump sideways from one dataset to another related dataset. Parallax still includes filters on the left side – but the twist comes from the opportunity to select what are called ‘Connections’ from the list in the upper right hand corner of the search results page.
This sort of thing makes the most sense when you can see examples. The creator of Parallax has published a great little video tour, but I also wanted to show you some neat data sets that were very easy to discover and embed in my blog. Since so many people are thinking about the Olympics right now, I thought I would start by exploring the Olympic Games Collection from Freebase. Below I have two data sets. On the left you will see a list of Olympic Games – and on the right you will see a list of Olympic event venues. (NOTE: to those reading this through a feed reader – you will likely have to click through to view the lists)
Now lets take a real sidestep and pull up a list of sports teams who use a former Olympic facility as a venue. This is the sort of question that you could figure out on your own, but it would be a pain in the neck to do by hand. See the list on the left below which took just as long to create as it took me to spot that Team (venue) was on the list of ‘more connections’ when my list of Olympic Venues was being displayed. The frame on the right below displays the one Olympic Venue that Freebase knows to have won an award (in this case the Structural Special Award).
Of course the lists above are only as good as the data behind them, but you can see how interesting it could be to use Parallax to explore connected information. Now take this idea to the world of archives and libraries, OPACs and finding aids and imagine the sorts of questions you can start asking. Yes – it does depend on the data being connected, but that is happening more and more all the time. The promise of the semantic web is structured data everywhere we turn.
Go play with Parallax. Look at Venture Funded Companies and then look at all the Games Developed by those companies. Examine the list of Bird Species and then see what schools have bird mascots… and THEN see a list of famous people who went to schools that have bird mascots.
Put in your own search from the Parallax homepage and play with the available connections. Map and timeline views are also available – though they only work if your data includes location and temporal data, respectively. If you find a great sequence of data sets – please share them!