I'm a grizzled document-oriented guy but I'm not blind to the amazing potential of numerical data on the Web. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that in years to come, data volumes on the web-o-data will be, in order of size: multi-media data, numerical data and then text. Text will bring up the rear. A distant third behind numerical data, which in turn will be some distance behind multimedia data.
That is what I think the volume graph will look like but in terms of business value, I suspect a very different graph will emerge: numerical data - text data - multi-media data. In that order.
In blunt, simple terms, there is serious money in numbers and number crunching. As more and more numerical data becomes available on the web and is joined by telemetry systems (e.g. smart-grid) generating vast new stores of numerical data we are going to see an explosion of new applications. I had the good fortune to be involved in the early days of Timetric and they have now been joined by a slew of companies working on innovative new applications in this space.
At the Gov 2.0 conference that has just ended, I had the opportunity to talk to my fellow survivor of the gestation of XML, Edd Dumbill of O'Reilly who is involved in the Strata conference. Edd really gets it and I look forward to seeing what he pulls together for the Strata conference. Exciting times.