Stock charts for everything else: Google Public Data

Google rolled out a simple little feature today: enter “unemployment rate wayne county” and they’ll offer you a chart. Click it, and you’ll see the unemployment rate since 1990, and be able to add other counties to compare. It ain’t much, but it’s neat.

Now, unemployment data *is* take-my-shirt-off-WOO-HOO-high-five thrilling, but this’ll get much more interesting if Google follows through (from the Official Google Blog):

The data we’re including in this first launch represents just a small fraction of all the interesting public data available on the web. There are statistics for prices of cookies, CO2 emissions, asthma frequency, high school graduation rates, bakers’ salaries, number of wildfires, and the list goes on. … we have been working on creating a new service that make lots of data instantly available for intuitive, visual exploration. Today’s launch is a first step in that direction.

Tidy snippets of civic information, linkable and comparable, from all aspects of public data — that’s one damn cool almanac! More like Everyblock than Wikipedia. Data, but easier. Fucking linkable!

Who’s gonna step up?

From this day forward, any news story about unemployment must link to the chart, just like business stories link to stock charts. Anything less is a disservice to readers. It’s zero-effort, free, informative, and damn neat. Why the hell not?

The future

The sci-fi geek in me sees this as just one more step towards Google’s lofty mission: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It’s coming: All the data, one gesture away, on my cornea-screen. Oh, hell yes.

Outbound links? EveryBlock? What the hell just happened at the Trib?

I just had an interesting chat with Daniel X. O’Neil, EveryBlock‘s People Person, and he confirmed my suspicions…

Two (maybe three) *totally amazing* things happened on today.

  1. They silently released a new “(beta test)” feature, an EveryBlock-enabled police blotterGaper’s Block got the scoop, from, get this, a tweet by the Tribune’s twitter persona, according to Daniel.
  2. More shockingly, the aforementioned blotter links *out* to EveryBlock, which links *out* to other news organizations. Click on one of the “more news in this neighborhood” links to see for yourself. I’m not positive, but I think this is a Tribune Company first!
  3. (maybe) They added a digg widget to their homepage? This may have happened earlier, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it.

Content crises, the oppression biz, tips from EveryBlock and Twittering — 6w link rodeo

The Cure for Content-Delay Syndrome — A List Apart

We have lots of “brand identity guidelines,” but not so many “style guides” (for content, at least). We have “strategists,” but no “commissioning editors,” and we more often “go live” than “publish.” Hence, we tend to first think “copywriter” when trying to get our content sorted, whereas very often an editor is the person we should be engaging.

Cisco Leak: ‘Great Firewall’ of China Was a Chance to Sell More Routers — Threat Level

The document is the first evidence that the networking giant has marketed its routers to China specifically as a tool of repression. It reinforces the double-edged role that Americans’ technological ingenuity plays in the rest of the world.

Recent EveryBlock-themed conference keynote — The EveryBlock Blog

My talk… focused on EveryBlock and some lessons we’ve learned while developing it.

And there’s a great conversation going on at Meranda Watling’s blog on Wired Journalists:
How is your news org using twitter?

On second thought, forget Google, make your own maps

Latest news in Ravenswood on EveryBlock

Paul Smith from EveryBlock has written an excellent article on making your own interactive maps.

An ecology of open source online mapping tools has emerged alongside the market leader. It is now possible to replicate Google Maps’ functionality with open source software and produce high-quality mapping applications tailored to our design goals.

The folks over at A List Apart have this knack for publishing articles that I come back to again and again. I think this one will be another on that list.