Breaking Myths with Good Design

I do not know about anyone else in the class, but I decided a few days ago to check out gapminder.com, which is Hans Rosling’s site and has that great application he used in his presentation. It is actually easy to use after watching his lecture, so I recommend it for everyone.

Fundamentally, the application presents data in such a way that it helps break down presumptions we have about the world. In particular, as the title of Rosling’s presentation suggests, the application breaks down our notions about the so-called third-world. With everything I keep hearing about the growth of Asia, his presentation is timely. If I remember correctly, he shows that the relationship between the United States and China, for instance, is not an inverse relation, with China growing and the USA falling. Instead, both the USA and China are growing at the same time. This is good news. Many millions of people will have better lives.

With regard to nationalism, Rosling’s presentaton made me wonder what kinds of interesting conclusions one can draw from his data, if he did not collect it in terms of nation-states. When he clicks on the different African countries and shows that referring to Africa as one unit oversimplifies that part of the world, I immediately thought about how dividing people into nations oversimplifes things, as well. I would like to see a similar application, which does not separate people by national borders.

The main lesson to take is that good design can change the way people think. If gapminder.org would be difficult to understand, then Rosling would undermine his data in the first place. Later this week when I have more time, I will be going back to the site. I also plan to send the link to friends, too.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Design, Helpful Tricks, Time and Money

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