“Statistics is now the sexiest subject around,” said Dr. Hans Rosling, a professor of international health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. We wholeheartedly agree!
This weekend’s New York Times printed an article praising the use of design to visualize statistics, historically a “yawn-inducing” discipline, to make figures such as GDP engaging and easy to comprehend. Dr. Rosling is the founder of a site called Gapminder that uses colorful, interactive displays to increase public knowledge about health disparities world-wide.
Gapminder exemplifies the ability of visualization to democratize information through its focus on visual comparisons. Because users are able to manipulate the interface, focusing on what most interests them, the data becomes more accessible and interesting to the site’s visitors.
As Ben Shneiderman, founding director of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory at the University of Maryland says in the article: “The purpose of visualization is insight, not pictures.” Dr. Rosling and the growing group of “visual analytics gurus” are empowering their audiences to discover their own insight through dynamic, interactive data displays.