Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Hans Rosling impresses Paxman

TEDxChange - Hans Rosling

BBC2 Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman is a man not easily impressed, at least not usually on-air. Last night Paxo was visibly gobsmacked by Hans Rosling's performance. It's not everyday that you see a statistician 'perform'.
China's inexorable rise in GDP and educational standards is well known and predictable. Rosling showed, through his startling use of infographics the extent that Chinese health and life expectancy was also improving markedly. As an indicator of how important Rosling's work is, he shared the platform with Bill Gates today at the LSE's conference on Global Poverty. 

I've talked about Prof Rosling before, but I've not seen anyone more effectively turn data into knowledge. The data for Professor Rosling's brilliant infographics is drawn from a myriad of public datasets. He neatly presents these as information through the graphical interface. You can play with and adapt using the tools that he showcased on Newsnight.

The unique gift that Rosling has is to add a third dimension to the information to generate knowledge. That dimension is time. You can play, fast-forward or reverse a time sequence, showing how values and their intersections have changed over a number of years. Colour and relative size of plots are also varie over time. To a certain extent a static graph requires interpretation and analysis. Rosling's tool allows the viewer to experience change in a visual way that is immediately engaging. See him in action here:

The Gapminder tool is now available here as a free desktop download, so you can use your own data to impart knowledge.

Hans Rosling  is Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute and co-founder and chairman of the Gapminder Foundation

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