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Google Graphs for Public Data

Visual learners and data jockeys rejoice: Google just launched a search tool that provides in an interactive chart public data that's usually so hard to dig up that even policy wonks would be challenged.

The new tool allows you to search for specific public information, for instance the unemployment rate in a particular state, and a box with an interactive graph appears that displays the pertinent data. From there you could compare it to other states in a graphical interface.

Right now, the data tool just includes information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau's Population Division, but eventually, Google says you'll find information on everything from the average price of cookies to the number of wildfires that occur.

The goal, according to the blog post by Google Product Manager Ola Rosling, is to "pave the way for public data to take a more central role in informed public conversations." That's admirable - even, one could argue, critically integral to a healthy democracy - and if you're not a fan of "American Idol," particularly welcome.

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