The man who made data sing

Hans Rosling was the man who made data sing. Last week, I was truly saddened to learn he had died. A giant in the world of data presentation, the Swedish statistician was a huge inspiration to me as he passionately ‘edutained’ audiences the world over.

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Data may have been his domain but he was a storyteller at heart and his passion made him a powerful speaker. In his hands, simple slides and props drew back the veil on complex socioeconomic statistics. He held up a microscope to humanity’s history, then stood back to present the solutions to our biggest problems. Ignorance was never an excuse.

His talks are more relevant than ever today, in our so-called ‘post-truth’ world. Dangerous preconceptions about how the world works crumble beneath his delivery. Facts beat fiction time and time again.

Hans showed us how global aid, global trade, green technology, and peace are all essential to making the world a better place. More than that, he showed us that they are working – that the world is getting better as a result. He even showed us how we can end extreme poverty.

It is in no small part thanks to Hans Rosling’s videos I am now a passionate advocate of data journalism and open data: that is to say, making the world’s data, much of which is locked up behind paywalls, accessible and understandable to all.

If you’d like to support this sort of work, check out Gapminder, an organisation founded by Hans Rosling which is dedicated to ‘fighting devastating misconceptions about global development.’ 

We need more people like Hans Rosling in this world. Let us hope the passion in his videos proves infectious in inspiring others to go out and continue where he left off. 

RIP Hans Rosling and thank you.

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