Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Amazing Power of Data Visualization, Augmented Reality and Social Discovery

Nearly everyday I learn something spectacular because someone I know or follow shared a great link, article, or video with me via Twitter or Facebook.

Below I've posted a brilliant video from Dr. Hans Rosling that was posted on my Facebook wall a few days ago by my friend and neighbor Brian. As you will see if you invest the 4 minutes to watch the video, Dr. Hans Rosling takes a simple factoid about life expectancy, and by comparing it to historical events, transforms statistics into a powerful and engaging story about the associations between health and income levels.

I'm sharing this video, and writing this post, because I continue to be amazed and inspired by the Internet, the social graph, and those individuals who share their knowledge and make it freely available to the world.

Here's why I'm amazed:

First, the way I discovered this video was from a friend of mine who I am now connected to via Facebook. He shared it with me because he figured (quite correctly) that I would be very interested in it and likely want to see it being that I'm so into using new technologies to transform health. The simple act of sharing of this video on my wall displays not only the power of the social graph, but also beneficial viral and connected communications are to education. Because it's now so easy for anyone to take an idea, create a video, publish, and so widely distribute within seconds, I believe more people will be highly educated and knowledgeable from here on out. This may seem obvious, but I find it incredible that I now get most of my information and knowledge from my friends, family, colleagues, organizations via a social streams on the Internet thanks to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and so many other free services. As I wrote about in May on this blog, anyone can now get access to an Ivy League education - and for FREE!

Secondly, the video itself is awe-inspiring to me for so many reasons. For the past year, I've been participating in several meet-ups including the local NYC data visualization and augmented reality meet-ups. What a great example to share with both groups! Dr. Rosling and his team created a masterpiece in my opinion by showing how simple data and statistics can be enhanced when an augmented reality layer is placed over the video. Further, the creators of the video show how great data visualization can transform plain numbers into a compelling story. The stats shared in this video now have meaning beyond simple numbers. Imagine learning the same lesson any other way and my guess is it wouldn't pack the same punch.

Finally, Im most amazed that people everywhere freely share their knowledge and wisdom to educate, help or inspire others. The combination of the dynamic teacher, the visual story telling made possible from great data visualization and augmented reality, the fact that the video was turned into a social object to be shared freely with others, the ability for people to easily publish or print, the ease with which information and stories can now be distributed to even more people...all I can say is what an amazing time for us all to live.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fascinating data! And I agree with your premis that anyone can obtain an Ivy League education for free (assuming their desire and a broadband connection) because of the internet. The Khan Academy ( is a wonderful example of this as well.

I wonder if, along with the increase in the actual duration of their lives, the individuals across the world who are living longer thanks to advances in medicine and industry are satisfied with the quality of the added years?

For me it is all about the quality of one's time spent on earth rather than the quantity! Hence the need to enhance one's health on the front end so that the body is willing (and able) to utilize all this wonderful knowledge on the back end.....

Bob Reich, Jr.