Google offers data-analysis tools, liposuction for stats

Uses: Inspiration from washing machines, Rebecca Black

GoogleLabs has a new data-mining tool,  Correlate, which allows folks with data (got data?) to use Google’s algorithms to dig through numbers and visualize meaning. Business folks will love to compare brands; political analysts will look for public-opinion trends; journalists should even more other uses. I hope they don’t all try to figure out the correlation between liposuction and property values.

Two frames from Google comic about its Correlate data analysis tool

Making correlations is up to you...

To teach you what this might be good for, Google Labs offers several educational tools: a Comic Book, a FAQ file, a Tutorial and a research Whitepaper (pdf).

Here’s the main GoogleBlog article on Correlate:

If you don’t have data of your own, Google already has had tools out there for analyzing public datasets, as discussed in this GoogleBlog article last year: Statistics for a Changing World.

Here’s the site itself: Google Public Data Explorer, an experimental visualization tool, and it’s support site.

Here are the Google datamine’s top 20 database topics:

1. School comparisons
2. Unemployment
3. Population
4. Sales tax
5. Salaries
6. Exchange rates
7. Crime statistics
8. Health statistics (health conditions)
9. Disaster statistics
10. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
11. Last names
12. Poverty
13. Oil price
14. Minimum wage
15. Consumer price index, inflation
16. Mortality
17. Cost of living
18. Election results
19. First names
20. Accidents, traffic violations

Some of the analysis-visualization is based on Trendalyzer, which Google acquired from the Gapminder Foundation, whose Hans Rosling has done an amazing job demonstrating how well-visualized data — and his dynamic lecture style — can increase  knowledge and understanding, from the poverty line to the air line via the wash line.
Maybe a combination of Google’s sharing tools for analysis and great examples like his will inspire journalists and journalism students. First, I wonder if his BBC feature, The Joy of Stats will convince more journalism students to take statistics courses…

Back to Google:
So what are people searching for? Cupcakes, cats, government shutdown, health care, Rebecca Black, or maybe Vanessa Fox…?

Vanessa Fox at SearchEngineLand has insights into all of these tools, including Correlate. See her take on Rebecca, cats, cupcakes, March Madness and more in this 5-minute video: What is it in our lives that we care about most?   Vanessa Fox video from the Ignite Conference

Other Google News:

I was less pleased — quite disappointed actually — when Google announced it is discontinuing its historical newspaper project. I wrote about it over at the AEJMC Newspaper Division blog: Google Unplugs Newspaper Scanning Project

mild-mannered reporter who found computers & the Web in grad school in the 1980s (Wesleyan) and '90s (UNC); taught journalism, media studies, Web production; retired to write, make music, photograph sunsets & walks in the woods.

Posted in Computers, Data, Google, Internet, Reporting, Technology

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