[Originally posted at cre.a.tive, March 12th, 2008 19:50:27]

Following on from my previous post, and with today’s Budget announcements, I wanted to bring up the use of visualisation software and it’s potential for deeper public understanding of a wide range of issues.

If you haven’t seen this video, it will change the way you think about statistics. It’s a TEDtalk from 2006 by Hans Rosling, whose organisation Gapminder offers free visualisation software for global poverty data and the like.

The simplicity of his presentations, and his obviously heartfelt passion and enthusiasm, draw you in to a world where a huge numbers actually mean something to you. This is vital when we are bombarded with statistics almost everyday, whether from the government, think tanks, or consumer groups. People can lose grasp of the real plight of people in large sections of the world, national or corporate profits and debts ranging from the millions to the trillions, and other such subjects that use really, really big numbers.

I’d be interested, after reading posts like this, as to what we’d see if someone plugged the numbers of this and past Budgets into visualisation software, and compared them to national statistics on areas such as poverty, health, and crime. Political maneuvering aside, it could reveal some interesting correlations.

Indeed, what’s the point of the government recording so much data on its citizens if only a small section of the population can understand it?

Gapminder was bought by Google last year (and you know how much data they have). You can use the software online here. Have a play around with the data, and you’ll gain new perspectives on the world.

[NB: There is another, more recent, presentation from Dr Rosling here.]

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