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Social Explorer
Jeremy Faludi, 20 Apr 05


Social Explorer is a group of New York demographers who have taken year 2000 US census data and made it into interactive maps. And they've done a fantastically thorough job. You can zoom all the way from the national level to your own neighborhood (even the street you live on), and see all sorts of different data, from income to industry to gender to ethnicity to means of commuting to family structure. Want a map showing percent of foreign-born nationals who immigrated in the last five years? It's there. Want a map showing percentage of self-employed males? It's there. Percentage of housing where rent is between $600 - $800 per month, or where heat is provided by solar power? It's there. Populations of Estonian ancestry? It's there.

They even have a few animated maps showing population changes from 1910 to 2000, and they claim to have data going back to 1870. It seems you can only browse Y2K data, but you can create slideshows to morph from one map to another, showing correlations between different data (e.g. median income and high-school dropout rates).

There are a few problems here and there (individual pages don't have their own URL's, so you can't email someone a map; animations can be spotty; and their downloads page promises that a standalone version can be downloaded as of last week), but those are minor foibles in an amazing tool. You could spend hours, if not days, poking around in there. It has an enormous wealth of information.

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This is one of the coolest things I've seen. You weren't kidding when you said it gets right down to street level. Thanks for the link!!

Posted by: Kasia on 20 Apr 05

To Jeremy (and Kaisa):

We appreciate the kind words. Social Explorer is at an early Beta Stage. Its development was inspired by the work that Susan Weber and I have done with the New York Times. Ahmed Lacevic is mainly responsible for programming the software and with Rasko Ritcic developed the map design. We are using GeoMicro's components along with some other stuff. It was funded by NSF through both the Course Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement Program and through the National Science Digital Library.

Over the next few months we plan to add data from earlier censuses and eventually will distribute the stand alone version.

Any comments should be directed to me or to Ahmed Lacevic at

Posted by: Andrew Beveridge on 22 Apr 05



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