An important applications that is much needed in SL is the ability to plot data from a spreadsheet. While SL has excellent graphics and visualization capabilities, it is presently not possible to plot even the simplest of all graphs, because there simply are no user friendly plotting tools in SL..... Not even a simple application to plot a histogram, bar graph, 2D or 3D scatter plot from data in a spreadsheet is available.
Speaking about this with several other people in SL, we decided to form a Data Visualization group, so as to begin consolidating all the existing plotting and data visualization tools into one site, and then allow for application developers to make these graphing tools user friendly. I like to refer to a user friendly plotting tool as "Excel-SL" -- in analogy to Microsoft Excel in terms of its simplicity and basic graphing capablities. Beyond that, we really need a more sophisticated graphing tool like Miner3D (from Dimension5) or Spotfire. In fact, the graphics in SL are much better than the graphics in either one of these two software packages, so this would be a great opportunity for someone to develop a highly competitive, marketable product.
Leading this data visualization effort, I have teamed up with Melanie Swan (Xantha Oe, SL). Melanie and I have had several brainstorming sessions about DataViz lately. One of the interesting things to emerge out of our conversations is that a wiki has been created by Melanie, so that now we are able to begin building an SL community interested in data visualization tools, both from a user standpoint as well as a developer standpoint. This wiki can be accessed at the following site: http://sldataviz.pbwiki.com/
Anyone who is interested in the development of data visualization tools in SL should IM me (Caia Alter) or Xantha Oe, so as to become part of the wiki. Xantha is working on acquiring some land in SciLands, so that at least we can start creating a common, centralized repository for all graphing and data visualization tools, where people can borrow any of the tools for their own use, as well as contributing tools of their own to the community.