Mind the Gap

Gapminder is a non-profit organization revolving around the idea of “a fact-based world view.” Their mission is to “[fight] devastating ignorance with fact-based worldviews everyone can understand.” The website provides videos, presentations, lesson plans, charts, and data about world issues such as HIV rates, child mortality rates, the wealth and heath of nations, unemployment rates, etc. Rates are listed for every country for each individual issue. It is a fantastic educational tool for anyone who wants to learn about current statistics of world affairs.

One of the founders of Gapminder is Hans Rosling from Stockholm. I had heard of him before even discovering Gapminder through a TED Talk that he did in 2006. His TED Talk is a visualization of the data of world health and wealth (by country) from the year 1810 until present. (There is even an updated, shorter version of the presentation.) His Gapminder World (Trendalyzer) software creates a clear and direct visual representation of his data using animated bubbles that move along a chart. Rosling seeks to set straight our lacking knowledge of real-world data and dispel preconceived ideas about the developing world. The main point of this presentation is to show that Third World countries are on the same path towards wealth and health that the West is, and that some countries are moving towards this even faster than the West did. His entire 20-minute TED Talk is fascinating, although the newer, 5-minute version is probably easier for quick absorption of facts.

All of the Gapminder data aims to eliminate these myths about Third World development. Without looking at the up-to-date data that Gapminder provides, I, for one, would have no idea where each individual country stands in all of these global challenges. For example, I would not know off the top of my head every country’s CO2 emissions since 1820 if it weren’t for the Gapminder visualization. This free resource, available to anyone with a computer, is a great, accurate source of global data aimed to educate anyone and everyone about the advancing world around him or her. It is definitely worth a few minutes to either browse through their website and/or watch Rosling’s presentation.

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