Tom Paper: Sharing data in a savvy way

Most people’s free time consists of jogging in the park or reading a good book. In Tom Paper’s free time, he created an information database.

“Whenever I had time on my hands, I would compile data — mostly social and demographic trends — on these Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and send them out to people I knew,” said Paper, who is the managing partner at Webster Pacific, a financial consulting company in San Francisco. “Excel was always a bit clunky, and not very user-friendly, so I just thought that there must be a better place to showcase data like this.”

Paper, who graduated with an M.B.A. from Stanford University in 1990, used that motivation to create Data 360, a community-based Web site (www.data360.org) where people, businesses and various other organizations can present and share data in an interactive manner.

The site features stats on topics from AIDS informational studies to the public debt, to opinion polls on topics such as evolution. All the information is presented by users of the site, and is culled from various online sources.

Data 360 offers its services to small businesses and non-profit organizations that mightnot be able to present their data findings in a technologically savvy manner. If the companies benefiting from Data 360’s services make their information public then the cost is waived; if not, there is a $90 monthly fee.

Paper also has plans to expand upon the current Data 360 format, enacting an XML (Extensible Markup Language) program that will constantly update the information flow into Data 360.

“I just love information and clarity,” Paper said. “I think it’s much easier to present arguments for a cause when you’re using numbers and facts, not just words.”

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