I had an amazing time last week at NCI’s dotConf event in the IFSC.  From their hilarious kick off Lego video to a great speaker line-up to a very fun after party to celebrate their newly launched MSc in Web Technologies, the folks at NCI know how to run fantastic events.  I’m sure every attendee at the dot conf will be attending next year as well.

The talk I gave at the dot conf was called “OMG TMI!!!!!11”, and it revolved around handling large data sets on the web and visualizing data in better, more useful ways.  The talk focused on Pivot, a new tool from Microsoft’s Live Labs team.  I fell in love with Pivot after watching Microsoft Technical Fellow Gary Flake give a TED talk on Pivot and how it enables us to make better decisions and gain new insights.

image Pivot as a downloadable application is available at  While the standalone application is very cool and quite useful, the ability to embed Pivot into your web application using Silverlight is way more powerful.  The Silverlight version came out just a few weeks ago, and I was lucky enough to get to go to Seattle for a two-day hands-on workshop on building Pivot applications in Silverlight and all the advances they’ve made in the very short time the project has been public. has links to some videos which show you how to get started if you have data you’d like to enable on your website in a cool and interactive way.  There are also several step-by-step tutorials for creating Pivot collections from scratch or building them dynamically from an existing database.

The more I use Pivot, the more I get excited about the potential it has.  Think about being able to rapidly search and filter information from any web application, things like, newspaper archives, even reviews from sites like citysearch or yelp.  I encourage you to download Pivot and try out some of the collections which are built-in like wikipedia, magazine archives and even the dogs database (which I used in my talk).  Send me your feedback.  If you’re interested in building something cool with Pivot, tell me and we can chat about how to make it happen.

Below are my slides and the link to my dot conf talk video.  If you’re thinking about going back to school either full-time or part-time, take a look at NCI’s new MSc in Web Technologies program.


Link to video: OMG TMI! – Interacting with large data sets on the web

p.s. If you’re über-obsessed with data, another option you might be interested in is the Certificate in Data Visualisation, offered by IADT.  More information on that course here.