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Should Data.gov visualize?

by on April 24, 2009

The US government has stood up a rather extensive data portal at Data.gov, and it seems logical that they should begin to display automatically generated and interactive visualizations of the data, right?  Well, over at SunLight Labs they think that they shouldn’t.

The second reason why government should avoid spending time on adding visualizations or other bells and whistles to Data.gov is because it actually hurts transparency. Visualizations, like any other form of news product, can be editorial– even inadvertently. If government puts more of a priority on producing great visualizations and user experience than on providing quality accurate data with a great feedback loop, then it runs a pretty good chance of not adhering to the goal of being actually transparent.

Personally, I disagree with their assessment.  They also make an argument that by making the data public, the community can create their own visualization which will undoubtedly be better than whatever the government would publicize, which is probably correct.  However, I really believe that non-biased visualizations could be created and shown with moderate effort.

via Sunlight Labs: Blog – Should Data.gov visualize? Probably not..