Data is the Intel Inside: One More Small Sign

I’ve long argued that one of the important changes that’s part of Web 2.0 is that data is the “Intel Inside” of the next generation of computer applications. I’ve also remarked on Hal Varian’s comment that SQL is the new HTML. But it was still a bit of a surprise to see this week’s treemap visualization of Bookscan’s point of sale data on computer book sales:

treemap image with database in upper left corner

If you don’t look at these treemaps every week, you might not notice anything significant. But as Roger Magoulas, our Director of Research, pointed out in his weekly summary: “Database is now the top left category, displacing programming languages, which has traditionally appeared in that position. This week, database sales (11,170 units), exceeded programming languages (11,109 units) for the first time, creating the change in layout. (The treemap algorithm places the largest items in the top left.)”

It was a small change — database book sales up 1% for the week, programming language book sales down 1% — but it was enough to change the layout. This might be only a minor weekly variance that will shortly reverse, or a tipping point, but I thought it was worth a note. Is it significant that in this one week, more books sold on databases than on programming languages? Maybe not. But it’s certainly thought-provoking.

(Aside: That’s one of the things I love about visualization tools — they help you spot changes that you’d otherwise miss. These two categories are so nearly even — a difference of less than half a percent — that you’d never notice.)

For more information on our book data and visualization methodology, see Book Sales as a Technology Trend Indicator, or my various State of the Computer Book Market postings.