Archive for March, 2008

Spotlighting Google Answers Questions and Researchers

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Google operated the Google Answers service for four-and-a-half years, and during that time regularly highlighted questions and researchers deserving of a moment in the spotlight.

Here, for posterity, are the questions which were awarded “Question of the week/month/quarter”:

“Safety of Helicopter/Plane Tour of Grand Canyon”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=17078

“Trade Magazines in Western Europe” http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=23032

“13 Companies That I Need Information About”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=24483

“People Who Don’t Wear Jeans” http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=24342

“Lightning”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=17949

“Pay rates for Google Answers research”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=39618

Explanation of a Poem”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=37056

“Constitution vs Articles of Confederation”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=42909

TV Show: The Greatest American Hero”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=46571

“Harrison Ford testimony”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=51758

“Seeing Life from the Other Side”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=55256

“Camus and Quotation”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=57509

“After Dinner Toasts” http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=59874

“Educator in jail setting needs information to pass on to those who qualify” http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=62135

“Spatial Geometry, Physics, Mathematics” http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=64420

“MMR vaccine and Autism” http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=65889

“Men’s Typical Outfits in Ireland” http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=68856

“Town Listed in Germany” http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=71324

“Jason Project” http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=70891

“Login Names (Like Pinkfreud)” http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=80023

Economic Systems” http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=88337

“Gravitational Forces”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=69228

“Animals that Communicate the Location of Food to Other Animals”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=105532

“Faces of Americans”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=100475

“How to Use This Site, and Get Answers?”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=114187

“Christmas Trees”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=124842

“New Years Traditions in United States” http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=135163

“Algorithm for Optimization of Sheet Metal Cutting” http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=141254

Translate German to English”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=149391

Making a Living”
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=162793

“Cause, the Chemistry, and the Consequences of the Halifax Explosion” http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=173543

“Parents Away From 3-yr Old For a Week – How Should We Handle It?”
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=179109

“Russian Emigrees in Paris, 1920-1939” http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=211927

Sewing Projects”
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=224426

“Greenland Pool”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=232657

Drowning in a reorganization dilemma”
http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=250747

“Helen Keller”
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=259064

“Science”
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=265489

“Captain Cook 18th Century Medals”
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=283384

“Lego”
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=288734

thegars.jpg

Here are the researchers who cheap car insurance quotes were awarded “Researcher of the week/month/quarter”:

missy-ga
larre-ga
robertskelton-ga
knowledge_seeker-ga
webadept-ga

huntsman-ga
fugitive-ga
bethc-ga
thx1138-ga
rhansenne-ga
pinkfreud-ga
tehuti-ga
searchbot-ga
grimace-ga
eiffel-ga
politicalguru-ga
secret901 -ga
easterangel-ga
juggler-ga
bobbie7-ga
clouseau-ga
websearcher-ga
rbnn-ga
journalist-ga
tutuzdad-ga
calebu2-ga
kevinmd-ga
justaskscott-ga
czh-ga
leli-ga
serenata-ga
arcadesdude-ga
scriptor-ga
hummer-ga
markj-ga
jem-ga
ephraim-ga
boquinha-ga
byrd-ga
livioflores-ga
denco-ga

UNdata

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

UNdata isn’t the antithesis of data (in the way that UNcyclopedia is the antithesis of an encyclopedia).

undata.png

Undata is a remarkably convenient way to access statistical data collected from the many and varied international governmental organizations that make up the United Nations.

Over 55 million database records are held on the site. A free-text search box helps you locate the data sets of interest, as does an “Explore” link. Once you locate the data you are looking for, you can refine it by applying filters, and can choose a column as a “pivot” to produce a cross-tabulation.

Best of all, you can then click “Link to this page” to create a static URL to your customized version of the data. For example, I looked up the land area of protected spaces (parks, etc) and applied a filter to restrict the results to Australia and Iraq. Choosing “Country” as the pivot column changed it to a two-dimensional table showing changes to protected spaces by country and year, allowing me to obtain this link to my data table.

If the presentation of complex data is important to you, you should visit Gapminder. Choose the Gapminder World option, and you can view five-dimensional data in a very intuitive way. Suppose you were interested at trends in carbon output on a country-by-country basis, correlated with wealth and life expectancy, and varying over time – it’s no problem. Put carbon output on one axis, wealth (GDP) on the other, make the size of each data point represent life expectancy, and hit the “Play” button for a dramatic presentation of how it changes over time. Colour coding is used to indicate countries, which can be highlighted or labelled if you like.

gapminder.png

Does that sound like hard work? Well sit back and watch Hans Roslings use the Gapminder animated charts to take you on a dramatic video tour of world data. He presents several data sets illustrate world problems and to suggest insights into possible solutions. He’s an engaging presenter, so do watch the video until the end, where there is a most entertaining finale!