Gapminder Is Cool

When I first stumbled onto the name voyager at the Baby Name Wizard a few years back, I felt like I was seeing the future. It was the sort of web tool that folks dream about.

I had exactly the same feeling when I recently visited Gapminder.org. They have an interactive data tool called “gapminder world” that is truly remarkable in the way it allows you to visualize data. The dynamics are mesmerizing; you can run time forward and see how any relationship you care about has evolved.

Infant mortality is a particularly interesting variable to use because the gains are so great. It is definitely worth playing around with. It only takes a few minutes to figure out and then you are off to the races. Also, be sure to watch Hans Rosling‘s TED presentation using these tools.

(The one danger of great data tools like these, however, is that they create such beautiful graphs that it is easy to forget that what you are looking at are correlations, not necessarily anything causal.)

Google (which acquired Gapminder’s underlying software) also offers the tool as a “gadget” through Google Spreadsheet.

(Hat tip: Dana Chandler)


Jochen Jesinghaus

Scary, that patents story! I sincerely hope that nobody holds patents on pie charts, scatterplots and colour-coded maps, otherwise the MDG Dashboard of Sustainability (http://esl.jrc.it/dc/dbgal_en.htm) would be in trouble ;-)

Gaye

Cuba is interesting to watch as well.

Dave

Spotfire has had this same technology for about 10 years now. In fact, they already hold several patents on this method of visualizing data.

Omair

Thanks for giving Gapminder and Hans Rosling some publicity; it's a great website, and Rosling's work deserves to be more widely known. We can always count on Freakonomics.

mike

you guys caused it to crash and burn. better warn them next time.

Teeny

Sam, I agree, guess it can't handle the freakonomics effect.

Rugbar

Man, look at the back and forth twists and turns that represent Russia. Played with it once but can't hit the site anymore. Levitt, you've crashed Gapminder!

Sam

Would love to take a look at this resource, but is it just me or is the gapminder.org webpage powered by a rubber band and hamster wheel?

David

Poor hamster :-(

Paul

GapMinder was purchased by Google a few years? ago. They have incorporated a "gadget" that is the GapMinder tool in Google Spreadsheets.

Claes Johansson, Gapminder

We have replaced the hamster and the rubber band and the server should now be up and running. We have also just posted an expanded dataset which includes more than 100 indicators. You can now, for example, compare primary school expenditure per student with primary school completion rates:

http://tinyurl.com/67mqda

Jim

For name popularity visualization, you may also like:
http://nametrends.net

I found particularly interesting the state-by-state over time maps (no direct link) and groups, such as that of my schoolmates (http://nametrends.net/group.php?decade=1970)

franco

interesting stuff.
and it makes me think of a similar visualization style that had been used for demystifying the risks of some of the most 'popular' mortality causes, by visually comparing perceived and real mortality rate. Has anybody else seen it? I don't remember where I found it, and I'm desperately trying to retrieve that good piece of information visualitazion

Freedem

(The one danger of great data tools like these, however, is that they create such beautiful graphs that it is easy to forget that what you are looking at are correlations, not necessarily anything causal.)

There are also causal relationships made obvious. You look at the graph for something like child mortality and see steady progress and suddenly there is a kink and the rate of progress changes dramatically. If you then look up the history of that country and see that there were medical policy changes at the beginning of the kink, then there is a fair chance that they were related.

Because of their attention to real data sets there is a great deal of propaganda bunk that can be easily discredited.