Gapminder Is Cool
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)