On the subject of public speaking and innovations to the mediums of presentation, a lot of focus has been given to David Byrne’s creative genius and artistry with the Microsoft application, PowerPoint. Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information, as he calls it, has been featured in many art exhibits since its debut several years ago and has now been reproduced in a DVD and companion book for purchase. His PowerPoint creations are particularly inventive for creating, in Jungian terms, a new neural pathway for our collective conscious…contriving a liaison between creating pure, specious art executed through a rational Microsoft application. It’s so brilliant and unexpected, it’s almost an oxymoron in and of itself — creating abstruse, ethereal concepts within the boundaries of a defined executable script!!
Wow, breaking barriers in conceptual thought…I hope he rewarded himself with an afternoon off for having single-handedly reset the thresholds of Cartesian philosophy! This is, of course, above and beyond his tremendous musical legacy, mind you. [In sharp contrast, sometimes I feel pleased with myself just if I make it over to Costco…or finish all of my laundry!]
But just as almost every new conceptual thought is constructed on the shoulders of our philosophical forefathers, David Byrne’s radical art nouveau opened a critical path to re-thinking the presentation of ideas and concepts through the platforms and applications of pc technology. Enter Gapminder.org, founded in 2005, a Swedish organization that has re-engineered the presentation of statistics into beautiful, moving pictures. This powerful translation of statistics into an evolving story – right before your very eyes – not only translates statistics into language-based concepts, but imparts the lay spectator with access and a sense of ownership to the concepts and – the story!
Let me phrase this in a different way: cast your mind back to high school, the English Literature class in your Senior year…what was the most difficult book you read? The one that was so hard for you to grasp…do you remember? The words, sentences, syntax and chapters were there, but it was just so hard to see the meaning behind it all! Was is The Stranger by Camus, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera or Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky? Then (Heavenly Father be praised), your teacher let you watch part of the movie adaptation – and all of a sudden, the emotions, the motivations, the sequence of events – i.e. the story – came flooding out of the TV and straight into your brain! A bolt of lightning blazed through your mind and – presto! The cerebellum processed all of the details in the novel, linked them to the center of your limbic system and emotional comprehension and…. you finally just GOT it!!
That’s what Gapminder’s proprietary technology does with statistical data, in almost the reverse-but-same method of David Byrne’s art-through-technology creation — the Gapminder group makes technology translate into moving art! By taking the measured, defined data, inserting it into an executable technological application and revealing the art and story behind the statistics they have found a way to “unveil the beauty of statistics for a fact based world view” !
Here is a paragraph from their mission statement: Gapminder is a non-profit venture promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by increased use and understanding of statistics and other information about social, economic and environmental development at local, national and global levels. We are a modern “museum” that helps making the world understandable, using the Internet.
This video presentation by co-founder Hans Rosling is a must-see and it will completely transform your thoughts on effectively presenting statistical data. Set aside several minutes and watch his video, entitled “Debunking Myths About the Third World.” Enjoy!
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