Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Free Our Information

The Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference, is quite simply, fantastic. Every year they have a conference where they have talks and presentations about the coolest ideas coming up, all with the potential to alter how we perceive and interact with the rest of the world. Fortunately, they are all available online. I've only seen a few, but so far they have all been mind-blowing.

The presentation below is by Hans Rosling, and it's about statistics. And it's freakin' sweet! Not in a math-nerd way, but in an everyman way. It's 20 minutes long, and worth every minute.

The most important part of the presentation is the last five minutes. We simply must have a new paradigm of knowledge - of perceiving it and disseminating it. Rosling's presentation is one of the best illustrations I have seen of this. Governments and organizations collect massive amounts of data, and then make it inaccessible. I believe the big revolution of this century will be the liberation of data - the democratization of information. This includes statistics, but more importantly science, entertainment, culture - human knowledge in its entirety. Presently, the producers and masters of human knowledge serve as gatekeepers whose primary role is to create systems which limit access to knowledge. You have to pay dearly to buy books or go to a university. Access to an academic journal often costs $20 per article and are written as to be inaccessible to anyone who has not spent years learning unnecessary jargon. This is no way to promote and disseminate knowledge - it merely keeps knowledge within the elite who are already knowledgeable. Largely, this democratization will occur because of the Internet, but it is much larger than that as well. I believe the impact of liberated data will eventually be on the level of the creation of the printing press, or universal suffrage. It will take time (many decades), and there will be no dramatic news coverage, but the weight of the impact on society will be enormous.

You can download the Trendalyzer software used in the presentation for free.

1 comment:

Epic Systems said...

Trend Compass is a new concept in viewing statistics and trends in an animated way by displaying in one chart 5 axis (X, Y, Time, Bubble size & Bubble color) instead of just the traditional X and Y axis. It could be used in analysis, research, presentation etc.

The following link is for our new Geographical Trend Compass:

Link on UK Master Card vs Visa performance:

Link showing Drilling feature (Parent/Child) - Just double-click on any bubble: