Microsoft Live Labs’ latest creation has just launched. Pivot is a fun, powerful discovery tool, built on Seadragon and powered by Silverlight, that runs in Vista or Windows 7 with IE8. It looks impressive and allows for truly intuitive exploration of information.
Microsoft’s Live Labs has been the source of a few interesting projects: a 3D photo-stitcher called PhotoSynth, a bookmarking service called Thumbtack (which was shuttered just this month). Typically, the UIs have been slick, but user adoption has lagged.
The official demo video was pretty cool, but is proving unembeddable. Instead, take a look at this onstage demo from Neowin:
In short, datasets are organized as collections. Results can be as granular or as big-picture as the user desires, and correlations and patterns are easy to see and examine through powerful but simple visualizations. Imagine browsing through thumbnails representing Kiva loans, then sorting the loans by the different types of businesses they helped established. Or, on a nerdier note, think about riffling through decks of Magic: The Gathering cards, zooming in for larger-than-life detail of the card’s artwork and then zooming out to see how each was related or linked to others in the set.
This probably reminds you – as it did us – a lot of Wikipedia. But imagine Wikipedia as an infinitely scannable, shuffleable, expandable, retractable, linked, and yet still detachable deck of digital cards; and then you have an inkling of how Pivot looks and feels.
Collections can be created by anyone, including third-party developers. Types of collections include simple, linked, and dynamic, which are each progressively more difficult to create. Developers are also encouraged to create collections from existing online datasets, such as the Internet Archive or data.gov.
It’s very exciting, indeed; and it’s available for Windows users only at the moment. Mac users, we’re sorry. Why don’t you go write some complaint letters on your beautifully designed, virus-immune machines? We’d love to rub it in some more by posting a few screenshots with gloating captions, but we’re too busy trying to get this machine to stop being so Windows-y and just run the software
Right now, the service is invitation-only. We encourage you to Google around for your invite codes or check in here later to see if the kind folks at Live Labs have passed along any to us.