This Startup Wants to Track and Sync All Our Data Changes

August 2, 2016, 4:30 PM UTC
The team at startup Attic Labs.
Michael Inouye, Greylock Partners

Attic Labs, a stealthy startup founded by former Google Chrome techies, wants to make it easier for companies to better track the provenance of the data they use.

Now, Aaron Boodman, co-founder and chief executive and former Google (GOOG) engineering lead is ready to talk—a little bit—about what Attic Labs is doing, which is building a decentralized database for storing and synchronizing changes to data.

The Noms database could solve a big problem in a world where the sheer amount of data coming online is exploding, making tracking changes to that data a headache.

“Public data from state, local, and federal governments and other sources gets used all the time for reports and analysis,” Boodman tells Fortune. “People ask questions of it and it would be very useful to know for any given report what the exact version of data was used.”

Companies or organizations often take that data, clean it up, do other stuff to it, and sell the results—even though the underlying source data itself is free.

While that’s fine, it can result in multiple conflicting versions of the same data. “If I take California database of business information and see some out-of-date information and correct it, my version will be different from the original,” Boodman explains.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter

Noms, which Boodman describes in this blog post, will provide the same type of workflow and tracking that Git version control technology provides for software code to raw data.

For non-technophiles, imagine a Word document on which you have worked with colleagues and that everyone has modified in some ways. Much like how Word has tools that annotate who made changes to which paragraph and when, who corrected spelling mistakes and then on, Noms will do the same for data.

“If you use Noms and change or improve data, you can publish this change so that anyone can see what you’ve done in precise detail. They can then pull your change back into the source with notation,” Boodman says.

For more on the great data explosion, watch:

Jerry Chen, general partner at Greylock, posits that Attic is attacking a long-festering problem, which is how to efficiently consume and distribute data over the Internet.

With Noms, a business could subscribe to data streams much like how a consumer can subscribe to RSS feeds of media. That could mean that a retailer could get data feeds of same-store sales weekly instead of having to manually download .CSV or other file format.

Boodman adds the company has several ideas in the works on how to make money off this work, but isn’t ready to discuss them in detail as of yet. Attic Labs also has new $8.1 million in Series A funding led by Greylock Partners with contributions from Harrison Metal, among others, to continue fueling Noms.

As of Tuesday, Attic Labs is open-sourcing that core technology so that it will be freely available to developers to check out and use. The hope is to gain broader adoption.

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.

Read More

Artificial IntelligenceCryptocurrencyMetaverseCybersecurityTech Forward