Friday, June 20, 2008

Serious Statistics Can Also Be Fun... Seriously...

How many of you like statistics? Serious statistic. Not who got how many DLF Maximum Sixes awards type of stuff... I am talking about rows and columns of numbers, tables, matrices. Things you put into plots and graphs, make presentations. Not many of you, I guess. Unless you're one of those MBA types, who thinks the second best invention in the history of mankind is MS Excel (the first one obviously is the MBA degree). And when I tell serious data, I'm talking about things like child mortality rate, per-capita GDP and wealth distribution in sub-Saharan Africa. Sounds scary, isn't it? Fear not my beloved readers. Today I show you something which will change your perception towards statistics. Well, it changed mine.

In Hans Rosling's words…

"...few people will appreciate the music if I just show them the notes. Most of us need to listen to the music to understand how beautiful it is. But often that's how we present statistics; we just show the notes we don't play the music."

And unlike other so-called experts he didn't stop after giving a quotable quote to put in your blog, he played the music.

Hans Rosling is a world renowned health expert and medical scientist. He also studied statistics. But today all over the cyberworld he is now known as the-guy-who-showed-stats-can-be-fun, by his now-legendary presentation given in TED 2006. Watch the video posted below to experience it.

This one presentation tells us so many things about our world, which can not be achieved by hundred articles. The best thing is anyone can try his/her hand in this kind of magic with data. Just go to this link where Rosling has provided the software and database for everyone. It opens an amazing window to the world, where you can pick and choose different parameters for both the axes and just play around. The plethora of options given is extensive to say the least. Try it out. You won't regret.

After the introduction and showing what real data with correct presentation can do, Rosling came back to TED 2007 with more. His topic this time was simple and ambitious. To show people that "The Seemingly Impossible is Possible", poverty is not something which can not be cured. Watch the amazing presentation. And by any chance don't miss the end. It packs a surprise which can be best described as "jaw-dropping".

He's one cool dude, no doubt about it. And you know what, he did his study in Public Health from St. John's Medical College in namma Bengaluru. :)