June 29, 2006, 2:08 pm
Debunking Myths About the “Developing” World
By Lisa Agustin
For the first time, select presentations from the annual Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference are now available online, including a presentation by Hans Rosling from this year’s meeting. Rosling is a public health expert, director of Sweden’s world-renowned Karolinska Institute medical university, and founder of Gapminder, a non-profit that visualizes critical world development data. With the narrative style of a sportscaster, Rosling focuses on debunking myths about income and mortality in the “developing” world.
Key to his presentation are animated visualizations based on statistics from Human Development Reports of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Created by Gapminder, these Flash-based animations rely on well-known visualization models, most notably the bubble map. This talk brings to mind two key issues with regard to information design and visualization: First, it underscores the importance of data visualization in representing complex statistical information (the viewer comes away with an understanding of the data more quickly than if it were simply presented in a written narrative). Second, it reminds us that representing complex information visually can only take you so far, and that providing an appropriate narrative may be a necessity, especially if the underlying message(s) are not that obvious.
Hans Rosling’s Presentation at TED 2006 is here: http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/tedtalksplayer.cfm?key=hans_rosling.
Gapminder’s animations are available at: http://www.gapminder.org/
Posted by Mac McBurney on June 29, 2006 at 5:15 pm