Gapminder example
Originally uploaded by eszter,
who has a related blog post

I have been interested in visualizing data for some time. Visual complexity and information aesthetics are interesting sites which feeds I subscribe to.

Today I came across Gapminder on the highly recommended Guardian technology blogProbably one of the best talks you’ll ever see…, which is Hans Rosling’s talk at TED.

Hans Rosling is professor of international health at Sweden’s world-renowned Karolinska Institute, and founder of Gapminder, a non-profit that brings vital global data to life. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, he debunked a few myths about the “developing” world in his talk.

Thanks to TED for making this great talk available on the web. I watched the video twice. His talk was amazing and he provided insight to a complicated issue in both an entertaining and informative manner using Gapminder. It’s worth watching the video just to see the data presentation alone.

Via amanzi (and as mentioned at the Gapminder home page), Google has been hosting the Gapminder tool since Spring 2006 with an AJAX interface. You can choose the variables for each axis, linear or logarithmic scale, and the color coding. Check the one miniute demo.

One idea from me. In the map mode, it would be very interesting if territories were re-sized according to the subject of interest like worldmapper rather than just mapping re-sized bubbles.

Lastly, Business Week has an article on this (my emphasis):

REACHING THE MASSES.  Rosling believes that making information more accessible has the potential to change the quality of the information itself. Eric Swanson, program manager for the World Bank’s Development Economics Data Group, a leading supplier and compiler of global-development statistics, explains: “Anything that makes people look hard at data increases the feedback to the suppliers [of the data], and therefore ultimately increases [its] quality. Our riff is that nobody wants poor-quality data, and if nobody wants it, then there’s really no reason to supply it. You need to break into that cycle and increase the awareness of how data can be used.” Gapminder’s graphical illustrations shine a spotlight on the data, not only increasing its visibility, but potentially putting its errors and omissions in starker relief.