!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Hans Rosling on Recognizing the Possible

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Hans Rosling on Recognizing the Possible

In 2006, and then again in 2007, Hans Rosling, a widely respected professor of international health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, gave talks at the annual TED conference about reducing poverty. These talks have attracted considerable attention.

Rosling, along with his son and daughter-in-law, developed data visualization software called Trendalyzer. The software uses animation of graphed data to help people grasp the stories (trends) embedded in time series data, such as statistics on national income and infant mortality. (Trendalyzer was acquired by Google in 2007.)

Rosling's goal is to facilitate evidence-based formulation of development policy. His key message is that more social and economic improvement is possible in developing countries than people unfamiliar with the details buried in development statistics realize.

You can watch the 2007 talk in the video below.1 If you want to skip the BMW commercials, start at 00:25 and stop at 19:06. If you want to skip Rosling's demo of sword-swallowing, stop at 17:20. Note that at 13:23, Rosling talks about the challenges African farmers face in getting their crops to market, the subject of an earlier post dealing with the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange.

Rosling's 2006 talk is here:

You can read a description of Trendalyzer that Rosling presented at an OECD meeting here (.doc). You can read a brief interview with Rosling here.

1 As I read Rosling's Trendalyzer bubble graphs, they accommodate as many as six variables (exported from an Excel spreadsheet): item name (e.g., country), item trait (e.g., geographical region, indicated by bubble color), x-coordinate (e.g., per capital GDP), y-coordinate (e.g., infant survival to age one, per thousand live births), bubble size (e.g., population), and time (shown via animation of the bubbles).


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