According to the saying, there are lies, worse lies, and statistics. However, statistics can reveal a great deal about the world when understood and interpreted correctly. The problem for the general population is that a list of numbers and percentages is neither appealing nor digestible and most people need a beginner’s guide to understand basic concepts of statistics. That’s where Hans Rosling and gapminder.org come in – Rosling challenges this perception and introduces the world to statistics like they have never seen it before.
Gapminder animates data on charts, turning them from a vague concept to a living organism whose shape, position and movement help visualize and internalize the issue discussed. It makes statistics accessible to people who don’t have a mathematical background, giving them the opportunity to understand it instantly. The interactive software, together with the lively presentation and passion of Hans Rosling, a Swedish professor of global health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, are “rockstars” on many events around the globe. His videos are among the top viewed, favorited and emailed of all times on TED, the popular lecture website.
Hans Rosling was voted one of the world’s “100 most important global thinkers” of 2009 by the Foreign Policy Magazine (December 2009), for “for boggling our minds with paradigm-shattering data. ” According to the magazine, his endeavor to use numbers to shatter stereotypes of rich and poor countries has brought him global prominence.
In May 2010 I was lucky to get the chance to talk to him for a few hours. As a result I produced this interview and the following youtube player on gapminder in which Rosling explains the idea behind it and the “media-strategy”.