I (Jason) recently watched Andrea Michalek’s presentation describing Plum Analytics, and I’m excited to see yet another altmetrics tool being rolled out. I have to admit that it’s still a bit surreal to see Real Grown-Up People talking about altmetrics as a viable commercial product, after coining the word less than 24 months ago. But I think this modest idea is just one entry point into something much bigger: a growing awareness of the gap between our current, 1600’s-vintage scholcomm system, and the astonishing potential of web-native communication.
I quite liked the screenshots I saw. The tabular presentation of altmetrics data has a lot of potential, and I like it better than total-impact’s approach in many ways. I loved the identity-entry workflow, and liked the collection-level visualizations at the top of the page. I’m must less impressed with the wheel-style visualization; why the circle? Stuff’s harder to read, and harder compare without an obvious baseline. Lacking a clear visual metaphor as a justification, this feels a bit chartjunky to me. Of course, this is just their early prototype and will no doubt improve substantially.
Andrea did a great job with the questions, particularly in steering folks away from the “one number to rule them all” approach. The strength of altmetrics is not prefab reductionism: it’s presenting a diverse panel of metrics and empowering users (not providers) to mix and synthesize them.
Indeed, I reckon supporting these analytics control panels will be a very profitable business; they’ll soon be able to build off the metrics stream total-impact will expose for free. Although there is (in the short term) revenue to be had by simply collecting altmetrics, I’m wary of trusting this to for-profits; I think it is infrastructure that’s better handled by a free, open, trusted nonprofit. If we’re successful, it will be :)