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Google backs tax-transparency challenge

It's sponsoring the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center's contest to find innovative new ways to map out esoteric government spending numbers.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy

Google has thrown its support behind a contest that searches for ways to map out the U.S. government's esoteric spending patterns. Called "Data Viz Challenge," the contest has been assembled by the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, a digital-arts collective headquartered a stone's throw from Google's Manhattan satellite office, and promises $5,000 to the entrant who can best "visualize how your individual federal income taxes are spent."

Winners will be announced, fittingly, on April 18--the day that tax returns are due. The data is to be sourced from WhatWePayFor.com, a site created to break down how individual tax payments are spent. Interested participants can show up at Eyebeam on Saturday for an event designed to kick things off and provide resources on behalf of Eyebeam fellows and employees of Google Creative Lab, which describes itself as "a small team that strives to re-think marketing across every kind of media - currently existing or not, with Google as its sole client."

Key for both Google and the contest entrants here is exposure: Google may well find that it has new talent-for-hire on its radar, and winners of the contest might find that a guaranteed feature on the Official Google Blog proves more lucrative than the prize money.