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    Washington Post: Google Unveils New Tool To Dig for Public Data

    The Washington Post reports on Google’s latest service: Google Public Data, which seeks to make data from local, state and federal governments easier to search and more accessible to the public. On its blog, Google said, “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.” This is a new tool to promote government transparency.

    The Washington Post reports: 

    The E-Government Act of 2002 required government agencies to make information more accessible electronically, but users have complained that many agencies do not organize their Web sites so they can be easily indexed by search engines. And some agencies, Google has said, embed codes in their sites that make certain pages invisible to search engines. […]

    Clay Johnson, director of Sunlight Labs, a project within the Sunlight Foundation that uses technology to improve government transparency, said he’s encouraged by Google’s new tool, although he has not yet used it.

    He cautioned, however, that there is no guarantee that government data is free of typographical and other errors.

    He added that specific pieces of data could be misleading without a full understanding of how it fits with other information that may not be visible. For example, a Google searcher may not know enough about campaign contribution laws to spot inaccurate data entries or statistics.

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