In April 2008, Google launched its Public Data Explorer, a fantastic tool that allows you to visually explore and analyze very large data sets. Since then, it has curated 27 datasets including more than 300 data metrics. The Public Data Explorer now enables people to visualize everything from labor productivity (OECD) to gender balance in parliaments (UNECE) to government debt levels (IMF) to municipality population density (Statistics Catalonia), with more data being added every week.
Today, Google is opening up the Public Data Explorer for anyone to upload, share and visualize data sets. To facilitate this, Google has created a new data format, the Dataset Publishing Language (DSPL) (see the documentation on Google Code for more information). To upload data, click on the “My Datasets” link on the left hand side of the Public Data Explorer. Once imported, a dataset can be visualized, embedded in external websites, and shared with others like a Google Doc. If you have questions or feedback, you can post a message in the DSPL discussion forum.
The Public Data Explorer uses technology Google acquired when it bought Trendalyzer in March 2007. The datasets that Google has curated are from authoritative sources such as Eurostat, the International Monetary Fund and other sources—data that until Google made it available would have been thought of as part of the invisible web.
Opening up the Public Data Explorer is similar in many ways to what Factual has been doing for a couple of years now. Factual is a self-described “open data repository.” Like Wolfram Alpha, a “computational knowledge engine,” Factual seeks to create order from chaos by allowing anyone to share and mash open data on any subject, structuring information in database-like tables.