Course Blog for INF1240 Research Methods
Section 1, Fall 2012
Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
Hi Sara, thank you for posting this - Hans Rosling is not only great at data visualizations, he's also an impressive showman. I could watch him move bubbles on a graph all day.
It's pretty, and a good demo of computerized visualization. Does that overshadow the important details that can't be represented with a floating bubble? What is life expectancy? Is infant mortality factored out? Were those incomes adjusted for inflation? Is the distribution really any different, percentage wise, now than it was 200 years ago? Finally, is it even true? What's the source of the data? Is global life expectancy in 1800 truly representative of the other 99.3% of human history? It looks like magic. Is it all a show combined with slight of hand that hides what is really going on?
Great questions - all of them. I wonder what it would look like if the data was presented in a way that took these nuances & problems into account...would it be too much for a simple data visualization/presentation to handle, or is there a way to represent relativism, ambiguity and problematic findings?
I think it is more about the differences between facts and truth. I don't dispute the facts, but I question the truth. A number doesn't have any meaning without the units. The number is the quantitative part. The units are the qualitative part. Both parts are required to have meaning. To compare two or more values, the units must match. If the units are derived from two entirely different contexts, the math is just wrong, even if it adds up correctly.