Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Web Wednesday: Social Explorer - Part 1

Social Explorer is an interactive map and data report system that allows users to
“visually analyze and understand the demography of the United States through the use of interactive maps and data reports…Our goal is to visually display the demographic change that has occurred in the U.S. from 1790 through the present at a variety of geographic levels, including neighborhoods, counties, and states. To accomplish this, we have developed a collection of interactive demographic maps that can be viewed, queried and manipulated on our site. Demographic patterns throughout American history spring to life in the form of reports, maps, and animations. "
To get a first hand view of some of the mapping capabilities of the site visit Census Tract Estimates. From here anyone can alter the default setting of the map by changing the census data year,  the specific classification of data within that year (i.e. age, population and marital status), and modify the specification under the chosen classification (i.e. percentage of the population under the age of 5 or over the age of 65). After creating such a map, it is possible to save the map and up to 13 others and create a slideshow from them. Though this slideshow won’t be saved if you are a public viewer, it is nice feature to experiment with. Visit the Maps tab to view a number of pre-made maps and slideshows and get an even better idea of the slideshow capabilities of the site. Below I have included an image of the Census Tract Estimate map and slideshow that I made.

To get a detailed account of all of the various attributes that the site has to offer, visit the About Social Explorer page and to view a list of all the data that Social Explorer has to offer to both the public and subscribing visitors, head to Social Explorer Datasets.]

Rice University has a subscription to Social Explorer, giving members of the University the opportunity to access immense amounts of extra data. For Rice members on Owlnet computers, visit Subscription Through Rice, click on "Social explorer [electronic resource]" and then click on the "Internetlink" provided to access everything that Social Explorer has to offer.  As a Rice University member it is also possible to make a personalized sub-account under the University’s subscription by visiting the Create a Sub-User Account page. (Note: You must be logged onto Social Explorer through the previous “Subscription Through Rice” link above before creating your own account.) By having a personalized account it is possible to store slideshows and maps on the site’s server and access the information at later times.

Another nice feature of the Social Explorer site is its "News & Announcements" section, which displays recent maps, data, general demographic information analysis, and news related to census data that users of the site have blogged about. For example, a few weeks there was an article related to congressional redistricting plans, which would make use of some of the demographic census data that the site highlights. For a list of some of the site’s most recent news article postings visit "News Announcements".