3 April 2007
Here some inspiration on how to present data to a non-expert audience: www.gapminder.org. The goal of that site is ``to make sense of the world by having fun with statistics’’, by making publicly available but highly complex data understandable to the general public. Their reasoning is that the best data won’t make any difference unless you can communicate it well to a large audience. And they do a fantastic job at just that.
There are two neat things on this site. First is the Trendalyzer, an interactive tool for visualizing data. The software takes boring statistical tables and juices them up in an interactive fashion. For example you can watch the world income distribution evolve over time, and single out particular regions and countries to get a better sense of what’s driving the trends. It also shows how aggregates can be deceiving within regions and countries. Many of the pre-designed presentations are on human development, but you can pick your own indicators. I saw this in a lecture on income inequalities, and it was a major hit. The software has been acquired by Google which apparently wants to add features and make it freely available.
The second interesting item is a presentation by Hans Rosling, the founder of Gapminder at the TED 2007 conference (Technology Entertainment Design, which aims to gather inspiring minds). He debunks ``myths about the developing world’’ using the Trendalyzer and plenty of personal animation. He does such a great job at engaging this audience that many a workshop presenter could learn from watching him. He’s more like a sports presenter than academic, jumping up and down in front of the screen and still getting his message across.