On Monday MIT Media Lab announced that Data USA was now available to the general public. Government data will now be online and accessible to a much wider audience. MIT bills it as the most comprehensive visualization of U.S. public data. It is free and its software code is open source, meaning that developers can build custom applications by adding other data. “The goal was to organize and visualize data in a way that a lot of people think about it.”
When you visit the site you will see how user-friendly it is – sort of a USA Today for the data analysis layman. For example, using colorful graphics and short sentences, it shows the median age of foreign-born residents of New York (44.7) and of the residents born in the United States (26.6); the most common countries of origin for immigrants (the Dominican Republic, China and Mexico); and the percentage of residents who are American citizens (82.8 percent). And you can browse you heart away if any other topic might be of particular interest, e.g., the wages of physicians and surgeons across the U.S., or the names of the institutions that award the most computer science degrees, etc.
Seems like the only thing left for you to do is come up with the questions, or to actually build custom applications by adding other data. You can become both the builder and the end-user. It’s like Wikipedia without all the words.