Has Rosling on Data Journalism and Visualization

A long format talk by Hans Rosling at the Open Knowledge Festival, on the importance of not just liberating public data, but also using it to weave engaging stories for the public about the facts of the world as we know it exists today.  It does no good to allow students to debate why women in the Muslim world have more children than elsewhere, because it isn’t true.  Sweden still sends foreign aid to China, even though China just bought Volvo.  People think that 30% of our power comes from wind and solar, because wind and solar grew 30% last year.  Why don’t more activists demand good data?  Why don’t they use it to build fact-based cases for their causes, instead of seeking out only the data that confirms their pre-existing ideologies?

Note: Rosling’s talk begins at 35 minutes into the archived video stream.

Scientific Civil Disobedience

Tens of thousands of academic papers from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society are being shared via BitTorrent thanks to the work of someone going by the name Greg Maxwell.  All of the papers are out of copyright — they date from the time of Newton up through 1923.  Nevertheless, they have until now been locked up behind a paywall.  Hopefully others in possession of such troves will follow suit.  Scientific publishing is long overdue for this kind of shakeup.

Human Language in the Palm of My Hand

One of the Rosetta discs was recently bequeathed to the University of Colorado libraries, and the Long Now put out a request for pictures of it in its new home.  I eagerly responded by heading to the special collections in Norlin yesterday.  It didn’t seem to be on display anywhere, so when the librarian made eye contact, I said I was here to see the Rosetta disc, and she sent someone off to get it.  And they took it out of its Pelican case, and set it on the table in front of me (after I’d filled out a reader card and agreed only to take notes in pencil… or by digital means — no pens are allowed near the old books)  At first I was hesitant to touch it, and asked if it was okay, and she said “Oh it doesn’t look like the kind of thing that requires any special handling.”  So I picked it up.

Humanity's Languages in the Palm of my Hand

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Links for the week of October 5th, 2010

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Links for the week of September 11th, 2009

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