If you've ever spent hours clicking through web pages collecting data — whether you're planning a holiday or culling data for academic research — web app Needle (presumably so-named with the haystack in mind) collects and organises data from any source, online or off.
We could painstakingly explain Needle, but your best bet is to watch the video demo above. Basically you teach Needle how to understand a data source — and it's incredibly good at learning how a data source works, even if it's a tedious-to-navigate website — and then, once its got the hang of the source, Needle collects all the data you ask for automatically, sorting it into an easy-to-parse format. Once you've got it, you can search, map, chart, and analyse the data however you see fit.
Again, check out the video to see it in action. Needle's definitely not a tool for everyone, but if you do a lot of research online, it seems like a lifesaver. (ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick sure thinks so.) Either way, you can't deny that it's a cleverly built tool. Needle is free for personal use.