Hans Rosling, creator of Gapminder
and professor of international health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, hosts a new documentary on the BBC called The Joy of Stats
that takes a look at the breadth and depth of data available today to analysts and private citizens alike.
In the clip above, Rosling demonstrates his primary interest in world health, tracking life expectancy and income over the last 200 years to show both the remarkable progress that has been made but also the tremendous gap that remains between those at the top (the very rich and healthy) and those at the bottom (the very poor and sick).
Rosling has been a vocal (and visual) advocate for expanding people’s knowledge of the world by presenting statistics in innovative ways. “Statistics should be the intellectual sidewalks of a society, and people should be able to build businesses and operate on the side of them,” he said at a discussion at the Wilson Center in May 2009.
In particular, Rosling’s focus has been on health, poverty, and the developing world, where he’s advocated for increased focus on child and maternal health and education. “The role of the old West in the new world is to become the foundation of the modern world – nothing more, nothing less,” he said during a TED talk on population growth (see below) where he broke from his more flashy visuals and went analog – using IKEA boxes to illustrate population and consumption growth. “But it’s a very important role. Do it well and get used to it.”
Rosling’s Gapminder software has been incorporated into Google’s Public Data Explorer, where many development indicators from the World Bank, World Health Organization, and others can now be easily tracked by anyone. For more on Google Data and to see an example set of indicators (agriculture as a percentage of GDP vs. fertility rates over the last 50 years), check out this previous Eye On, on The New Security Beat.
Video Credit: “Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats – BBC Four,” courtesy of BBC, via YouTube, and “Hans Rosling on global population growth,” courtesy of TED.