Friday, September 19, 2008

I'll Show You Yours If You'll Show Me Mine

There is a remarkable large database detailing the base salaries of public employees of the State of California that has been published by the Sacramento Bee. This database, which discloses the salaries of those in the governor's office does not seem to include Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. However, it does seem to include me and all my faculty colleagues in the U.C. System and lists base salaries from last year. My own feelings about inclusion are complicated: I feel that this is "private" information about myself and yet I understand the obligation to disclose the details of a budget that is heavily based on compensating public employees.

It is interesting that those in the Cal State system of second-tier institutions of higher education don't seem to be included in this database. The newspaper has already responded to union complaints from other quarters about disclosure of this information, since this type of data obviously has a lot of rhetorical power for people from many different job titles.

The actual functioning of this kind of transparency in the workplace has yet to be entirely seen, but it does seem like interesting data to be visualized in other ways that get beyond pull-down menus and text boxes. Perhaps California state employee Lev Manovich of Culturevis, who is also in the database, could also take a crack at a better aesthetic presentation. It also might be interesting to map such data against other kinds of visualizations, such as the organizational hierarchies by which universities are structured.

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