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.

3 thoughts on “Stock charts for everything else: Google Public Data

  1. I wonder if they timed it to coincide with new jobs numbers coming out this week.

    Knowing Google, it’s probably (hopefully) only a matter of time until there’s an API and embeddable widgets.

  2. The frontiers you are touching on, aside from cornea screens, seem to me open domain intelligence, contextual search and BLOB to text conversion. Once systems can evaluate context of human input based on pattern analysis, evaluate the open domain of data available based on context and include the previously ‘locked’ information in binary objects, computer prescience of large parts of the human experience is probably not too far behind. Or, for the prosaic, really fucking good marketing data.

    What I want to know who is working on the technology allowing us all to travel from city to city in clear plastic vacuum tubes?

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