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Google Public Data Explorer Admits Public

The visualization tool can now be used to create graphs and charts from personally provided data sets.

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When Google launched Public Data Explorer last year, the visualization software could display public data sets provided by organizations like the World Bank and the U.S. Census Bureau. But data supplied by the public wasn't allowed.

On Wednesday, that irony should end. Google is planning to allow anyone to upload his or her own data sets to Public Data Explorer. The service will finally fit its name.

To make this possible, Google is making a new XML-based metadata format available: Dataset Publishing Language (DSPL). Once properly structured, user-provided data sets can be uploaded, visualized, and animated, thanks to technology Google acquired when it bought Trendalyzer in 2007.

The resulting charts and graphs can be embedded on Web sites and shared like a Google Doc. Google plans to allow "official" data providers to list their data sets in the Google Public Data Directory. Those who believe that they represent an "official" organization must contact Google to be recognized as such.

Prior to launching Public Data Explorer as a Google Labs experiment in 2010, Google integrated the visualization technology into its search results to present graphs and charts for specific queries.

The company also makes the technology available to developers through the Google Chart Tools APIs.

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