Initiatives to bring Statistics to the People

Some say that statistics or data aren’t very sexy, that they have the image of being quite difficult, of being boring or even of being biased and not worth to be studied. But on the other hand statistics are fundamental for an evidence based decision-making…..

New technologies and private data initiatives try to to remedy the problem. To mention bottom up Web 2.0 websites dedicated to data like Swivel or Many Eyes or dynamic and interactive visualization tools like Gapminder .

At the OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy in Istanbul (June 2007) some of these initiatives made their mission statements.

Here they are:
Gapminder, speech of Hans Rosling about the unveiling of the beauty of statistics and giving naked numbers the instruments to be heard.

Rosling at OECD Forum

Some excerpts from Hans Rosling’s speech: “… Often we show the notes and don’t play the music. To play the music we need instruments.
And we need someone who plays. Then the beauty of the music will come out and reach the population…. I regard the professionals of statistical agencies as the much appreciated composers. ……
There is a possibility now to upload data in completely new technologies which are financed outside the money which is going to statistical agencies. There is new money coming in for statistics for developping new technologies. …
… The database hugging in public institutions is hampering innovation. We must find a correct way of enabling the innovators and enterpreneurs to use in a proper and responsible way the databases and to put them up for experimentation. That’s where things will happen. I think if we can solve this in a correct way we will see a very dynamic and interesting development in the future. We have to honour our composers, we need a watermark on the database ….. But it has to go out in the creative environment when new technology and new funding will be made available for it.
And I would summarize like this: That dissemination has to be enlarged to a concept of access. Communication is one part of it. But you have to go beyond that. Every Friday night at 6 o’clock the week’s work of the statistical agency will be updated on the database and it will be free for download in the week and for the creative Web 2.0 community out there. Then things will happen, then things will happen. And we will have to have visualization to go to animation and then we can do what the music industry is and we hope that large parts of the population will play the beautiful music of statistics.”

Swivel, speech of Brian Mulloy & Dmitry Dimov presenting their web 2.0 for data and OECD “as the founding member of (Swivels) official source program” and also highlighting OECD’s “leadership in moving from simple dissemination to interaction with the community”.
Sara Wood, Chief Data Officer & Vice President of made a presentation about “breaking the vicious cycle of data apathy”


See also Swivel’s blog


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