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Google Snaps Up Stats Tool from Swedish Charity 106

Posted by Zonk
from the at-least-he's-rich-in-spirit dept.
paulraps writes "A stats program that began as a teaching aid for a university lecture has just been bought by Google for an undisclosed sum. The statistics tool, Trendalyzer, was developed by a professor and his son at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute. Unfortunately for the developers, the project has been run under the auspices of a charity, Gapminder, and financed over the last seven years by public money. Maybe that seemed smart at the time, but the professor, admitting that he won't see a dime of Google's cash, now seems regretful. As for what Google has purchased: 'Public organizations around the world invest 20 billion dollars a year producing different kinds of statistics. Until now, nobody has thought of collecting all the information in the same place. That should be possible with Trendalyzer, which will be able to present that quantity of data in a clear way as well as giving the user the ability to compare many different kinds of information.'"
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Google Snaps Up Stats Tool from Swedish Charity

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  • huh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by linguizic (806996)
    No one seems to care about this enough to even be the first troll.
    • by ganjadude (952775)
      .....you are right, i tried to come up with something.... i just could not do it..... let me try

      Google is buying non profit orgs.... must make them evil!!!.....nah nah ok

      I for one welcome our non profit buying overlords! .......

      that works a little better..... on a serious note, all the developers who were working on this for free are now kicking themselves
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by linguizic (806996)
        I don't know how many times I refreshed this page waiting for comments, so I decided to be the first to comment on how there weren't any comments. BTW, it's "overloards", forget what your spell checker thinks it is.
  • Ouch (Score:1, Redundant)

    by ScrewMaster (602015)
    Maybe that seemed smart at the time, but the professor, admitting that he won't see a dime of Google's cash, now seems regretful.

    Major bummer.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Seumas (6865)
      He wouldn't have made much money, anyway. Everyone knows that the real money is in providing a service for fourteen year old girls to shake their half naked asses in a camera for paedophiles to watch so they can target them with advertising for used schoolgirl panties and long-range cameras and binoculars from The Sharper Image catalog. Google will pay you a couple billion for that.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Heh if you think pedophiles are interested in 14 year old girls, I don't think that word means what you think it means.
    • Any Regrets? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Guess he just got beheaded by the other edge of giving your software away, huh?

      At least he can be content to know that Google will be the bestest, most very perfect company ever, since they come right out and say, at every opportunity, that their policy is "don't be evil".

      And since they say they won't be evil, we know they can't be lying! (Please ignore how they help totalitarian right-wing regimes to identify people who speak out against them, and empower governments to clamp down on free speech)
      • Wait a minute.. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday March 18, 2007 @06:23PM (#18396861) Homepage Journal
        Is the bad guy the one that bought the software? Or the one that sold it? It's not like anyone was forced to do anything against their will.

        And how did this software get under the control of the non-profit? Is the prof getting a salary from them?

        That the summary says Google "snapped up" the software seems to suggest that Google snatched it out of their hands or something. I've got a feeling that money changed hands somewhere along the line. Somebody got paid, and I'm betting it was a bundle. Anybody who's smart enough to write an important bit of software ought be able to read a contract before he signs it. And if he thought that just because an organization is non-profit it means that it's not looking to get a pile of cash then maybe he's been vacationing on Pluto for the past few decades or doesn't read the business section of the newspaper. If he didn't write the software to make money, then he shouldn't cry because he didn't make money. If he wanted to make money from his software, then he should have asked a few questions before releasing the project.

        I'm among the most anti-big corporation commentors around here, but I'm more intrigued by what's not in this article as by what's there. I'm not ready to hang an evil jacket on Google just for buying something that was for sale.
    • Actually, Google could hire the guy! Why not?
    • Redundant, my ass. I was the first one to say that.
  • Ulterior Motives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @04:02PM (#18395943)

    'Public organizations around the world invest 20 billion dollars a year producing different kinds of statistics. Until now, nobody has thought of collecting all the information in the same place. That should be possible with Trendalyzer, which will be able to present that quantity of data in a clear way as well as giving the user the ability to compare many different kinds of information.'"
    Of course people have thought of collecting all of that information in one single place. Just because none of the services have achieved such massive market share that they essentially did collect all of the stats around the world doesn't mean that wasn't and isn't their goal.

    Google, I dig you for now, but I'm not really sure that I care for the idea of having google own nearly all of the search data for every search done by every individual around the planet in the history of google and beyond combined with all of the world-wide traffic analysis data.

    And as someone who would be targeted for this service -- why would I bother? There are plenty of free open source utilities out there that provide every ounce of data you could ever want and they're incredibly easy to configure and deploy.

    No, the benefit here seems to be less for the end-users deploying the service and more for whoever google then turns around and sells the massive amounts of correlated information to. For instance, let's see every bit of data about a specific user so we can see everything from each search he does to his entire browsing trail. Bet we could sell that for a lot of money!

    Hopefully you will still have a simple way as a user to prevent google from collecting this information just like you can do with their stupid Urchin service (by blocking it). And, sadly, people will still continue to use this new service because they'll sell out their mother's medical history and offer up a sample of their own blood and cholesterol ratings if it means getting something "for free".
    • Re:Ulterior Motives (Score:5, Informative)

      by Short Circuit (52384) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Sunday March 18, 2007 @05:00PM (#18396359) Homepage Journal

      No, the benefit here seems to be less for the end-users deploying the service and more for whoever google then turns around and sells the massive amounts of correlated information to. For instance, let's see every bit of data about a specific user so we can see everything from each search he does to his entire browsing trail. Bet we could sell that for a lot of money!
      You've got it backwards...statistics aren't useful when you zoom in to focus on individuals, they're useful when you zoom out to focus on groups. Marketing is rarely about selling to an individual, but to selling to masses. Individuals have too many quirks and preferences to make per-individual marketing efforts worthwhile. Why spend all that effort to gaurantee a sale to one individual, when you can spend the same amount to sell to two or three persent of a group of a few thousand?

      "Targeted" advertisements are still group-based efforts. Your individual browsing history is only valuable up to the point where you can be lumped into a marketing stereotype.

      About ten years ago, I went online searching for prices on printer ribbons for an IBM Proprinter II. The email address I supplied one website is still receiving spam from that one encounter, not for Proprinter ribbons, not for dot matrix supplies, but for inkjets and toner cartridges. I got lumped into a "shops for printer supplies online" marketing group; nobody's ever sent me an offer for supplies for my Proprinter II. (Though, once he found out I had a use for it, a guy handed me a box of 8.5"x11" tractor feed paper yesterday.)
      • ... and you've got something going. I know exactly where my most effective PPC ads (Google/MSN) are for my small business: my Perfect Customer is

        * late 20s/early 30s
        * female
        * elementary school teacher
        * teaches English/ESL
        * looking for an activity for teaching sight words
        * needs it for this Friday
        * searching during either her lunch hour, a prep period, or from home after she puts the kids to bed

        I sell Bingo Card Creator (http://www.bingocardcreator.com), which conveniently has sight words bingo built into i
        • by jotok (728554)
          Just out of curiosity, what does "Perfect" mean in this case? "Most likely to buy?"

          Do you have any idea why gender and need ("by this Friday") are such important factors, or are these simply the results of your data collection?

          Do you have enough data to tell how much of an influence each variable is on demand? Can you say, for example, that a female with all of those attributes is twice as likely to buy as a male with the same attributes, or a 50-year-old teacher is 1/10th as likely to buy as a 25-year-ol
      • by gfreeman (456642)
        Individuals have too many quirks and preferences to make per-individual marketing efforts worthwhile.

        Google have made their billions based on the idea of per-individual marketing. Amazon have grasped the "long tail" firmly and are still around to sell books that I would like, not neccessarily those that the larger public would want.

        I see this as another feather to Google's cap, one that they can make wads of cash from, selling not only individuals' clicks, but also the generic trends too. Google is becoming
        • But Trendalyzer won't help with per-individual marketing, it's a statistical aggregation and analysis tool. When you're talking about individuals, you're talking case studies, not statistics.
          • by gfreeman (456642)
            I'm aware of that, and not disputing it.

            I was countering your comment that it's not worthwhile trying to market to individuals, and providing Google and Amazon as evidence.
    • by drix (4602)
      I feel the same way about Google as you: part fanboy, part creeped out. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say. And don't forget that once upon a time, none other than Microsoft was also considered a dynamic up-and-comer which employed a lot of young, smart idealists with a radically different vision of how the world should work (or some I'm told, for I was nary a twinkle in my father's eye at the time.) Twenty years can make a lot of difference.

      Anyways, I was just thinking the other da
    • Google, I dig you for now, but I'm not really sure that I care for the idea of having google own nearly all of the search data for every search done by every individual around the planet in the history of google and beyond combined with all of the world-wide traffic analysis data.

      It's heresy, I know, but perhaps Google is beginning to deserve a borg icon?
      • It's heresy, I know, but perhaps Google is beginning to deserve a borg icon?

        Given the attitude of the general public to Google, I think it would be apt to make it the Emperor from Star Wars:

        "This is how [the internet] dies. With thunderous applause..."
  • .. targeted Google Ads! Hurrah! Oh, wait, I already use Opera to block them anyway... still, I guess this'll prove useful to actually putting ads up that vaguely interest people.
    • by EvilIdler (21087)
      I personally weigh the obnoxiousness of ads against the quality of a site. Too much crap, like flash-ads with noise/
      huge waste of space, and I block it. If they're friendly little links and actually interesting stuff, I let them be.
      Few sites survive the crap-test, since I'm an intolerant asshole :/

      But oh, so nice it is once the ads are gone - you can actually see content then :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Seumas (6865)
        I personally block all advertisements, period. I don't care about people justifying the need for ads and how I'm "stealing" if I don't watch the ads on a site. I remember a time when people ran services like BBSes (which could require quite a large personal investment at times) because they enjoyed it. Not because they could make a bunch of money, be the next famous internet-whore. They understood a project was probably going to cost them money rather than make them money and they didn't care.

        Now it seems t
        • Ah...so you remember when the Internet was an educational and military tool, back before it took off?

          Back before Google, or even Yahoo. Back when a T1 cost $1500/mo or more, making entry in to the ISP business difficult. Back before multimedia content (shareware games) pushed your average home user's bandwidth above 2400 baud.

          Yeah, commercialization of the Internet really destroyed its value.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by bitt3n (941736)

          I offer a service and have for almost a decade now and I've spent about $30k on it.

          $30K? ouch. I was spending that kind of money on my web service also, until I managed to negotiate a volume discount with the escort service I use. I even had enough money left over to buy a much better webcam, and a professional-grade fireman costume.

      • by daeg (828071)
        On that topic, I used to permit Google Ads because they were generally high quality, targeted ads. However, lately they have become "[target] sucks! Try [product]!" I don't like my ads telling me what products suck. For instance, in a conversation thread in my gmail account about the Tango icons has an ad in it right now: "Are Tango icons too bloated? Try [product] icons". I see almost identical ads in OpenOffice.org threads, "OpenOffice slow and bloated? Try [crappy competing office product] free for 7 day
  • What does it do? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dour power (764750) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @04:05PM (#18395967)
    Neither article nor summary explain what Trendalyzer actually does. The animated mapping of stats at http://tools.google.com/gapminder [google.com] is a little more illustrative.
    • by Seumas (6865)
      If by illustrative, you mean that it conveys absolutely no explanation of what it is but it doesn't do so with a very shiny flash interface thingy, then yes. Illustrative . . . but not informative.

      I think we all presumed it was some sort of web data collecting tool. But maybe it's about collecting random stats like the political party makeup of each country and how many people in each country own what kind of car or have a certain carbon footprint. But who knows. Either way, that is hardly new either. As fo
      • Re:What does it do? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ghoti (60903) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @04:25PM (#18396131) Homepage
        This has nothing at all to do with the CIA World Factbook. This is not just about collecting data (which it does, of course, and more data over longer time than the Factbook), but about understanding the world through that data. A collection of data is worthless if it isn't used to figure out how to help people in Africa, for example. Rosling shows very clearly that Africa isn't just starving children, and that development aid therefore must be adapted to the exact population it is for. He also has a lot of interesting things to say about the developments in Asia, how health care and economy are connected, etc.

        Don't dismiss this without knowing anything about it.
        • Unfortunately a lot of economic data doesn't appear, such as the various inequity indexes, forgien investment, and road coverage.
    • Re:What does it do? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ghoti (60903) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @04:16PM (#18396059) Homepage
      If you want to know what this is about, watch Hans Rosling's ("the professor") excellent talk [google.com]. This is about bringing lots of data that were collected with public money online so they can actually be used. Rosling uses simple but effective visualization tools (and is a great speaker) to get people interested in the data.
    • by ozbird (127571) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @05:04PM (#18396375)
      The animated mapping of stats at http://tools.google.com/gapminder [google.com] is a little more illustrative.

      So now it's lies, damn lies, and Pacman on acid?
    • by chriss (26574) * <chriss@memomo.net> on Sunday March 18, 2007 @05:33PM (#18396571) Homepage
      Rosling gave a 20min presentation of Trendalyzer at the TED 2006 conference [ted.com], using it to debunk some of the prejudices we have about the world. Turns out chimpanzees beat swedish professors when making claims about the world. Worth watching, as are many of the presentations at TEDtalks [ted.com].
      • Excellent video.

        Prof Rosling gives an entertaining lecture and casually explains the state of the world today with a few animated visualization tools - fabulous stuff. His personal mission seems to be to enable the connection of masses of statistics available all over the world to his neat visualization tool set to help the world 'see'. That is to help anyone who is interested study numerical data from public domain databases be they entrepreneurs or academics. Rock on tommy!

        Google gets its slice of the act
    • Probably not something Google has paid billions of dollars for.

      It crams five axes into a single window, using the "usual" two (x & y) axes, plus color, size and animation for the other three axes. Works fine when you use something size related for size, time for animation, and something discrete for color, as in the example.
  • Developers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kevin_conaway (585204) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @04:06PM (#18395973) Homepage

    From the Gapminder site [gapminder.org]:

    We believe that Google's acquisition of Trendalyzer will speed up the achievement of this noble goal. Trendalyzer's developers have left Gapminder to join Google in Mountain View, where Google intends to improve and scale up Trendalyzer, and make it freely available to those who seek access to statistics.


    To me, this seems to imply that the professor and his son were the original developers, not the maintainers. Or perhaps just his son is going to Google?

  • The professor will probably get money from them later on when Google wants to upgrade it, or is having problems with it. When Google wasn't interested in putting out the Google Tool bar for Fire Fox, there were some guys that made their own, and then all of a sudden Google saw the light switch on, and develop their version. I wrote to them about making sure that these guys were compensated in some way for their hard work, and I also wrote to the developers about what I did, and they stated that they really
  • Until now, nobody has thought of collecting all the information in the same place
    That sounds a bit unlikely... In fact, I know a lot of people who did.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by neerolyte (878983)
      Apparently Zonk didn't look into the article much.
      Check out This video [google.com] as can be found on one of Zonk's links. [gapminder.org]
      The idea is NOT to collect all the data of the world centrally, it is to link to the pre-existing data and display it in a useful way. The software looks incredibly innovative, I doubt there is anything similar for two reasons (1) Google wouldn't' have bought it (2) TV stations here in Australia would be showing trends with the software just as they now show various parts of the earth with Googl
  • by ciggieposeur (715798) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @04:15PM (#18396057)
    ...why isn't it already in the public domain?
    • by Kalriath (849904)
      Why isn't the software that manages your medical history public domain, given that the public healthcare system funded it. That said, why isn't that medical history itself public domain? While we're on that, why am I not able to walk into a public library and read your driver's license, birth records, marriage records, medical history, criminal records, and so forth? Oh, that's right, because being funded by public money does NOT automatically entail public ownership.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        why am I not able to walk into a public library and read your driver's license, birth records, marriage records, medical history, criminal records, and so forth?

        Lack of 1337 skillz, of course.
      • by cgenman (325138)
        Why isn't the software that manages your medical history public domain, given that the public healthcare system funded it.

        True. That should be too.

        That said, why isn't that medical history itself public domain? While we're on that, why am I not able to walk into a public library and read your driver's license, birth records, marriage records, medical history, criminal records, and so forth?

        Actually, a lot of that winds up in court records, at least here in the US. You can walk in and read any public court
        • by Kalriath (849904)

          Why isn't the software that manages your medical history public domain, given that the public healthcare system funded it.

          True. That should be too.

          No. It shouldn't. The potential damage that could occur with random Joe Q Public having access to the entire methodology behind the storage of people's most private data, without even the legal protection of an NDA is just... astronomical. I think the poster of the root of this particular thread is just another of those anti-copyright zealots who think that every single thing developed should be public domain.

          That said, I'll address somne of your other points as well, since I do agree with some. With

          • No. It shouldn't. The potential damage that could occur with random Joe Q Public having access to the entire methodology behind the storage of people's most private data, without even the legal protection of an NDA is just... astronomical.

            What kind of damage could Joe Q Public do if they had access to database schema and application code? Medical records are already protected (or so we think) by elaborate security measures, without the proper passwords just having the codebase poses no risk to the data its
            • by Kalriath (849904)
              Overgeneralises? Hardly. Although I do throw "zealot" around too much. I like the word, so what. Anyway, back on topic...

              You say most government grant funded software should be public domain. How exactly do you decide what fits into the "most" and what fits into the "no" categories? Should that be your decision? In these cases, governments should be weighing the pros and cons of release of information. In the case of the software that manages your medical records, there are no pros to releasing th
      • Why isn't the software that manages your medical history public domain, given that the public healthcare system funded it. ...

        Actually it already is public domain [vistasoftware.org] (warning for PDF). Or which countries where you talking about? If you don't have it, you can download [hardhats.org] it and set it up.

    • Public doman
      Shhhh, it is, Sweden doesn't want Google to find out until they hand over the check/cheque (delete to suit localised spelling)
  • Someone engages in work for a charity and then doesn't get a big payoff. What's the problem again?
    • by catbutt (469582)
      Maybe that the next person considering doing something for charity will think twice?
    • Someone engages in work for a charity and then doesn't get a big payoff. What's the problem again?

      I suspect most people who donate time/money to a charity do so under the assumption that nobody will get a big payoff from it (unless you consider the beneficiaries of the charity as a whole to have gotten a big payoff). It's the same reason people feel conned when they find out a charity they donated to uses 90% of its received donations to pay for administrative overhead.

      • by k8to (9046)
        In this particular case, however, it is not clear (from the article) how the purchase funds will be allocated. Perhaps they too will be spent entirely for actions within the scope of the charity's charter, and thus this becomes yet another way to fulfill their mission efficiently.

        I do question the way it smells like the author of the software will no longer be involved with it. That part seems foolish.
    • What's the problem again?
      Can't see why this is marked flamebait. It's a valid point - people generally get involved in charity work to be able to help - it's certainly not for the high salary. If it later turns out the charity gets some $$ for their efforts, it doesn't change why that person first signed up.
  • by hduff (570443) <hoytduff AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday March 18, 2007 @04:30PM (#18396177) Homepage Journal
    Lot's of people have great ideas that never reach fruition for reasons that have nothing to do with them. And sometimes, those ideas can take off and be promoted for reasons that have nothing to do with them. Often these things offend our sense of fairness.

    Yet life is not fair and often people have regrets and indulge in "what if" fantasies.

    For something like this, even if the fellow gets no money, he can get publicity and recognition and might be able to leverage that into something to get him more money if that's what he wants.

    The past is past and the price for obtaining "justice" and "fairness" can be quite high and more than one should have to pay; you can lose your future doing it.

    Learn from the past and develop a plan to move forward and leverage on the lessons learned; the best revenge is always living well.
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Sunday March 18, 2007 @04:50PM (#18396301) Homepage Journal
    I wrote a primitive version of such a site several years ago which I called Laboratory of the States [laboratory...states.com] since the goal was to gather lots of demographic variables by State and present ecological correlations.

    Shortly thereafter, a site called Nation Master [nationmaster.org] cropped up, with a bit flashier and simpler user interface, but focused on CIA World Fact Book data, rather than the States of the US. (The same folks later did State Master [statemaster.org] using similar UI technology.)

    Finally, Google tested Gapminder [google.com] with an even spiffier and simpler UI -- again focusing on by Nation correlations.

    Aside from the usual complaints about "The Ecological Fallacy" [wikipedia.org] (a fallacy that cuts both ways BTW) there are two big pitfalls for this stuff:

    1. Dealing with missing data.
    2. Estimating statistical significance.

    What I did about missing data was simply eliminate any data points where data was missing from one or both of the variables being correlated. This reduces the sample size, hence statistical significance, but it bypasses arguments over what sort of missing data should be used. The Netflix Prize [netflixprize.com] is coming up with really good algorithms to compute missing data efficiently and accurately so maybe there is hope for something more effective here.

    Statistical significance is more difficult to deal with. Usually one must look at tables for statistical significance of correlations under the assumption that the variables each follow a normal distribution. Unfortunately, many variables follow polynomial (like squared) or exponential distributions, so you have to do things like take the sqrt or log of one or both of the variables to try to normalize them. However, when you are looking for correlations, sometimes it its the relationship that is polynomial or exponential -- in which case you can apply sqrt or log to get the maximum correlation coefficient at the sacrifice of normality of one or both of the variables. Unfortunately, there is no simple arithmetic formula for calculating the significance level of a correlation given a non-normal distribution -- you can't just plug in the skewness, kurtosis, etc. as well as sample size and correlation coefficient, and get out a valid statistical significance. Therefore it is hard to make good statements about many very important correlations without watering them down to meaninglessness.

    Also, a complaint about the "simple" user interfaces:

    Some of the worst reporting from news media comes when they refuse to report statistics in terms remotely related to anything meaningful -- for example you will frequently hear statements to the effect that "California has the most orange trees in the nation." or some such. Such statistics are nonsense for the purposes of correlation studies since the size of the ecology (California state) is all you are really measuring with such statements. You have to divide by the population or divide by the total GDP or something to rationalize the ecology against other ecologies.

    In Laboratory of the States, I did this with all my variables but I also left the raw variables around and allowed people to do arithmetic on them -- like dividing them -- to get their own rational comparisons if for some reason my choices were not adequate. This problem isn't as bad with Gapminder as it is with Nation Master and State Master -- but Gapm

    • by N7DR (536428)
      Unfortunately, there is no simple arithmetic formula for calculating the significance level of a correlation given a non-normal distribution -- you can't just plug in the skewness, kurtosis, etc. as well as sample size and correlation coefficient, and get out a valid statistical significance.

      True, but isn't that what rank correlations are for? Sure, they aren't as efficient as the Pearson (or similar) correlations, but their strength is precisely that that don't rely on questionable assumptions of norma

      • The problem with relying on rank ordered correlations alone for significance testing is the data dredging fallacy. Just by random chance a certain number of correlations with a given distribution will have a certain level of correlation. Frequently you can rely on the other correlations to give you an idea of the "random" distribution of such correlations but really to do it properly you must generate a bunch of random correlations where the variables have the kind of non-normality you want to test for si
  • Nice pictures. Lets me look at data they have cooked. Lots of nifty chartjunk http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chartjunk [wikipedia.org]. I seem to have missed the link that lets me enter my own data. Does anybody have a pointer to that?
    • by belg4mit (152620) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @05:29PM (#18396539) Homepage
      Actually, this is the antithesis of chartjunk.

      It's also not as new as people are making it out to be, besides being a variant of a scatter plot,
      they've been around for awhile. To murder a quote from Hamlet:

      There are more things in infographic design, OldBaldGuy, Than are dreamt of by Microsoft Excel.
      • Let's agree to disagree on the chartjunk. The Gapminder figures have a great wow factor, but I find their plots to be rather noisy when trying to understand the data.

        I prefer tools like Ggobi http://www.ggobi.org/ [ggobi.org], its predecessor XGobi http://www.research.att.com/areas/stat/xgobi/ [att.com] or commercial products like SAS' insight or jmp. I'm sure there are others. They allow you to tour and manipulate the data through linked plots and displays and selectively turn on and off elements.

    • by owlnation (858981)
      You need to wait until Jumbo Wales develops Wikichart - THE best way to monitor and cross-reference elephant population through time.
  • by chriss (26574) * <chriss@memomo.net> on Sunday March 18, 2007 @05:27PM (#18396521) Homepage

    I think one has to see Rosling work with Trendalyzer to appreciate what that piece of software can do. He got standing ovations for his presentation at the TED conference in 2006 [ted.com]. Very cool.

    Hans Rosling is professor of international health at Sweden's world-renowned Karolinska Institute, and founder of Gapminder, a non-profit that brings vital global data to life. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, he debunks a few myths about the "developing" world.[from the TED site]
  • Wrong license? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flyingfsck (986395) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @06:20PM (#18396851)
    If it was GPL, then we all could have benefitted from it, not just Google.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mieses (309946)
      They thank the community, but provide no source code:
      http://osflash.org/pipermail/osflash_osflash.org/2 006-September/011238.html [osflash.org]

      Gapminder appears to be made from mostly open source code:

      "mtasc, hamtasc, swfmill, eclipse, swftools, Flash Javascript Integration kit (right now using SWFObject) are some of the tools we've used."

      The design solutions are unique but the code that was developed seems trivial. Why not open source it? Perhaps the university calculated that selling to google for a small(?) sum was worth more in publicity than open sourcing the project. too bad.

  • by vasanth (908280) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @07:29PM (#18397193)
    I always thought statistics was boring but the video by the prof http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2670820702 819322251 [google.com] really intrigued me, statistics makes so much sense when presented properly... the numbers not only make sense but also explains their relation with other statistics giving a much broader view.. I'm sure a tool like this would be a boon to decision makers...
    • statistics makes so much sense when presented properly
      35% do make sense
      60% don't and
      5% just make your brain implode.
  • This is kind of evil. I think Google should reward this guy too.

    Of course then they would have less money for the gourmet food for their employees.

  • Gapminder TechTalk (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JoshRoss (88988) <josssssssssssssh@gmail.com> on Sunday March 18, 2007 @09:54PM (#18397965) Journal
    A while ago, these guys came to google to give a techtalk. Here it is: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7996617766 640098677 [google.com]

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

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