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Social Explorer is a mapping and data visualization program that creates custom maps, reports, and presentations from a wide array of survey sources, including the U.S. census, the American Community Survey, FBI Uniform Crime Reports, and some international sources such as the World Bank’s development indicators. Though most of its underlying data are published free of charge by nonprofit and government agencies, Social Explorer adds interpretative value by turning complex data into visual abstractions that aid comprehension. Furthermore, Explorer’s presentation and report options help users to compare and contrast data or put them into sociohistorical context, and all through an attractive and thoughtful interface that never overwhelms the user. This review considers Social Explorer’s uses, its limitations, and the many ways its subscribers can customize or otherwise manipulate demographic data.

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The Charleston Advisor