Former Microsoft CEO Launches New Tool For Finding Government Data

This Tax Day, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer launched a new tool designed to make government spending and revenue more accessible to the average citizen.

The website — USAFacts.org — has been slow and buggy for users on Tuesday, apparently due to the level of traffic. It offers interactive graphics showing data on revenue, spending, demographics and program missions.

For example, the site prominently features an infographic created to break down revenue and spending in 2014. Revenue is broken down by origin; spending is broken down by what “mission” of government it serves, based on the functions laid out in the Constitution.

It’s a big-picture view of where U.S. tax dollars come from, and how they’re spent. But click on a subcategory and you’re taken to a more detailed, granular view of that spending.

Ballmer didn’t create the site because he was an expert on government data. Quite the opposite, according to The New York Times’ Dealbook.

The Times says that Ballmer’s wife was pushing her newly-retired husband to get more involved in philanthropy. Ballmer said — according to his own memory, as he described the conversation to the Times — “But come on, doesn’t the government take care of the poor, the sick, the old?”

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The Difference Between Infographics, Instructographics and Data Visualisations

The Difference Between Infographics, Instructographics and Data Visualisations

Infographic is a well-known term in the marketing world, but what are data stories and instructographics? There is some debate about the differences between them all, especially when it comes to data stories, also known as data visualisations, and infographics. Whilst they hold some similarities, there are some key factors which make them quite distinct from each other.

What are infographics?

Infographics are created to tell a story about something. They can be about almost any topic, from how much plastic the world uses to what makes a successful mobile app; but they are always aimed at a specific audience. Essentially, if you have some interesting facts or data to share, infographics are the most accessible way to do it. They’re clear, look attractive and are therefore very shareable. Although your audience enjoys evergreens and blogs, remember that they often don’t have time to read the whole thing. An infographic provides a neat summary of the information they need to know, so they can be a welcome break from the walls of text they see all day, every day.

How do instructographics differ?

Instructographics usually cover a DIY task, but again, they can cover almost any topic. Just like an infographic, they have the potential to go viral and are made to look as attractive as possible. Although a well-written ‘how to’ guide can cover much more information than an instructographic, they often aren’t as visually appealing or easy to follow.

…and data visualisations?

Data visualisations are much like an unrefined infographic. They present quantifiable information and so are more likely to focus on numbers. In some cases, an entire data set is shown without editing and they rarely take a lot of handiwork to produce. They are much more likely to be generated by computer programs using algorithms, as their overall look isn’t too important.

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