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Google Government Requests includes an interactive world map of all requests from government agencies around the world to remove content from their services, or provide information about users of their services and products, between July and December 2009. Even with the simple quantitative data that is available, some non-obvious insights can be made (who knew Brazil was so engaged in acquiring or removing Google data?).

As Google claims to be "... still learning the best way to collect and present this information", it seems your input in terms of proposing a more effective information design might be valuable to them. So, if you were working for Google, how would you propose to represent this data in a more effective way?

Give your comments or links to redesign sketches in the comments section below!

Thnkx Tim!


I am a fan of, before representing data spatially, asking oneself yourself whether your data really is spatial. Does distance matter, and do you expect neighboring countries to affect one another in this matter?

If no, a simpler representation should be chosen (the principle of Occham's razor), perhaps a bar chart.

If yes, and you do choose a map, I would use circles, where their sizes represent the number of requests.

Wed 21 Apr 2010 at 8:10 PM

I wonder why Google didn't use the style of their Analytics interface. It might not be the perfect solution, but using color/brightness coding instead of number markers stuck onto a tiny map (with topographic features - why?) would already improve readability quite a lot.

Wed 21 Apr 2010 at 8:19 PM

I agree with Eva. This data is not spatial, and a map is unnecessary. Maps are good for clouds of ash, bad for "top ten country" lists.

Considering that you also have a second level of data (the types of removal requests from each country), representing the data as a stacked bar graph or nested treemap would be better in my opinion. It would also allow users to easily compare request types between countries.

Wed 21 Apr 2010 at 10:55 PM
Chris Horsley

I quite agree with Christian. The interface already in place in Google Analytics would lend itself well to this.
This allows a 'coarse-grained' reading of the data through ranges rather than absolute values. And personally I think the geographic relations may be very interesting.
Didn't Google buy Gapminder? Why not a time-based playing of the data, for thinking loud?

Thu 22 Apr 2010 at 1:35 AM

I've put the data on a spreadsheet here http://sn.im/gov-reqs, if anyone wants a try with the numbers.

Thu 22 Apr 2010 at 2:11 PM

Google can't afford to pay for their own information architects and designers?

Fri 23 Apr 2010 at 9:08 PM
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