MetaLayer launches community to make better infographics (exclusive)

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MetaLayer, a startup that helps you make visualizations from complex sets of data, has launched a new data community for people to share visualizations they’ve made with its service.

“We want to do to data analysis what Apple has done to computers: Make data so intuitive that anyone can gather insights from tons of data,” said Metalayer Chief executive Chris Burrage in an interview with VentureBeat.

MetaLayer helps you gather insights and make visualizations, also known as infographics, from massive amounts of data on the web. The company has poised itself as the “Photoshop of data,” mainly because you can drag and drop sets of data onto one another to help make sense of datasets with graphs and diagrams, much like adding layers to a Photoshop image. You can import pictures, statistical figures, Twitter feeds, documents, and news feeds into MetaLayer’s dashboard and then analyze them for trends or other insights. Metalayer aims its service at data analysts, non-profits, and journalists who may not have the immense knowledge needed to analyze huge amounts of data, nor the money to pay for a robust system to do it for them.

Now the company is launching a community platform called Delv, where infographics can be vetted and shared. People can pick apart the data that others have put together, and point out flaws or ask questions. Down the road the company hopes the platform will become a place to share data visualizations created by “real people”, not statisticians and professional analysts.

“Our new community project platform, Delv, is for people to come delve into the information analyzed on our site,” said Burrage. “People can look at infographics and other visualizations that community members have created, see the raw data that went into making them, mix up the data, and point out weak points.”

The company graduated in December 2011 from DreamVenture’s incubator and launched its dashboard, which is still in beta, in November 2011. MetaLayer also offers two APIs, imgLayer and dataLayer. ImgLayer takes words and objects from images and makes tags out of them, and dataLayer adds context to social data. Right now all the services are free, but in the future MetaLayer plans to charge for premium services such as private infographics that aren’t automatically shared with the community. It also plans to license infographics that are created by members at some point.

MetaLayer is based in Philadelphia and is run by a three-man team.

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