Google Spreadsheets and the Long Tail

I’ve been using Google Spreadsheets more recently to all the little one-pager list type spreadsheets that I make. When I noticed that they had added a notifications system, so that you can get an email when a collaborator updates a spreadsheet, or even a particular cell in the sheet, it sparked an idea. What if a cell could contain a short script, or a URL that points to a script on another server, that returned a number. The sheet could the update dynamically based on the result of the script.

This could be integrated with AdWords or Google Analytics, to return data from there that could feed custom analysis spreadsheets or could point to an internal database to use proprietary business data. I could also see data providers, e.g. the National Weather Service or Digg, providing statistics feeds that folks could slice and dice for their own purposes.

In a sense, this could be part of the long tail of the “super-cruncher”” phenomenon. Its hard to get good data to play with right now. A standard platform, or at least a standard access protocol, for raw numbers would open up opportunities to crowdsource data analysis.