Data Visualization Tools

I’ve seen a number of data visualisation tools recently – there’s ManyEyes (Tony Hirst has done some fun things with the HEFCE funding data); I’ve also mentioned Gapminder (powered by Trendalyzer – now owned by Google) on more than one occasion.
Adam Ostrow, at Mashable, lists 16 Awesome Data Visualization Tools. He wrote the post in 2007, so since then some of the tools (e.g. Crazy Egg) have vanished, but it’s still a useful list of ways of representing data visually.

ALTC2008: Hans Rosling

Hans Rosling got the conference off to a fabulous start with a Keynote. He started from the premise that the hardest time to teach someone is when they think they know. The particular example he used was getting a group of students to select which of a pair of countries had the worst child mortality rates. Of the five pairs, students got, on average, 1.8 correct … i.e. worse than Chimps guessing, as he pointed out. Even Professors only scored 2.4. He didn’t seem to be too impressed with PBL – commenting that students don’t always end up knowing facts.

This, combined with the fact that numbers are remarkably hard to interpret lead him to develop (with his son & daughter in law) the wonderful Gapminder visualisation software, that I’ve mentioned several times before. He demonstrated (with the aid of a ladder & long stick)



some of the misconceptions (in this particular case the idea that “Western World = small family, long life & Developing World = large family, short life). Watching the change from 1951 to today dispelled that theory.
It was both entertaining & educational – a great opening!
(The keynotes are being recorded – so should be available)