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Data Is Plural

Unreturned Remains, Brazilian Biodiversity, and Food Coloring Additives

This week’s roundup of notable data

Illustration of an open envelope, with arrows coming out from within. The arrows are pointing to various spreadsheets. Behind the spreadsheets are data visualizations, clouds and strings of numbers.
Gabriel Hongsdusit

Data Is Plural is a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets. This edition, dated Jan. 18, 2023, has been republished with permission of the author.

Unreturned remains. “The remains of more than 110,000 Native American, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Natives’ ancestors are still held by museums, universities and federal agencies,” according to The Repatriation Project, a ProPublica investigative series launched last week. The project’s interactive database provides more detailed figures—such as counts by institution, tribe, and geography. It builds upon National Park Service databases that track institutional compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, including each institution’s self-reported counts of human remains and funerary objects not yet made available for return and compliance updates published in the Federal Register. Event: ProPublica is hosting a webinar at 4 p.m. U.S. Eastern today.

Money in U.K. politics. The Westminster Accounts, a recent collaboration between Sky News and Tortoise Media, examines the flow of money through U.K. politics. It does so by combining data from three key sources: the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, Electoral Commission records of donations to parties, and the Register of All-Party Parliamentary Groups. You can search and explore the results through the collaboration’s interactive database. They haven’t published a downloadable version yet, but Simon Willison has extracted one. Read more: The project’s methodology.

Brazilian biodiversity. Flora e Funga do Brasil, a project led by the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden Research Institute, aims to collect “morphological descriptions, identification keys and illustrations for all species of plants, algae and fungi known to the country.” With the help of hundreds of scientists, the project currently covers 50,000-plus species. A downloadable dataset links each species’ various names and synonyms, geographic distribution, reference citations, and more. [h/t Grist Labs]

Government open-source policies. Researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies have compiled a dataset of 660-plus government policies regarding open-source software proposed at the national level since 1999. The dataset indicates each proposed policy’s country, year, title, issuing authority, stated objective, status, and more. The countries with the largest number of entries: Argentina, the U.S., and South Korea. [h/t Kevin Xu]

Food coloring. Arlie L. Lehmkuhler et al. have used high-performance liquid chromatography to assemble a dataset measuring the levels of “FD&C” color additives (e.g., Yellow 5 and Red 40) in foods and drinks popular with children, such as breakfast cereals and fruit-flavored soft drinks. The results, organized by product category, include product- and dye-specific measurements but do not name the particular products or brands.


Notice: Unlike most of our content, this edition of Data Is Plural by Jeremy Singer-Vine is not available for republication under a Creative Commons license.

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