GapMinder World, An Intriguing Data Trending Tool


So what do you do when it has been raining for the past four days, it is Saturday morning, and all of your kids' sports activities have been canceled?  Some of us have a long list of "honey-do's" to tackle, and, instead of tackling it, we go check out what's going on in the 'Net - "just for a few minutes, honey... I will get back to the list as soon as I am finished with this...."

This Saturday morning was one of those days.  While looking around the Net, I came across this presentation on TED:

TED Talks Talking at the US State Department this summer, Hans Rosling uses his fascinating data-bubble software to burst myths about the developing world. Look for new analysis on China and the post-bailout world, mixed with classic data shows.

The  "data-bubble software"  is called GAPMINDER.


It is available for public use here.  

The tool is pretty neat (to say the least). I've played around with the tool enough to know that I need to get back to it as soon as I get some of those "honey-do" things crossed off....

Check it out for yourself.

Staying in Touch... A New Perspective

My eldest daughter, Dominique, is wrapping up her five week summer school program at Exeter this coming Friday. From all accounts, she had a blast.

How do I know? Did I get a bunch of calls or letters from her? Well, maybe a few calls here and there, but mostly via mobile phone texts and via her Facebook "story". What do I mean by that?

Consider these two examples.


The other day my wife, Kyra,mentioned that she had spoken with Dominique.

"How did you manage to get hold of her?" I asked.

"It's easy," she replied, "I just send her a text. If I get a text back, I know that she has her phone next to her. Then I just pick up the phone and call her."


We were sitting around the kitchen table this week, finishing dinner, when Carolyn, Kyra's mom, mentioned: "Did you see Dominique's status in Facebook today? She has a new boyfriend."

"And he's from New Jersey!" exclaimed Kyra.

"Yeah, I saw that." I added.

I remember my Exeter days when all we had at Dow House, our dorm,was a pay phone and a tv room in the basement, and whoever was watching tv answered the phone when it rang and then ran up the stairs yelling "Goose! Telephone! It's your mom calling from Brazil!"

A few years later, after graduating from college, I got asked by Exeter to be part of an Alumni Technology Committee. Our job was to spend a few days at Exeter, look at everything they were doing regarding technology, and make recommendations. I remember thinking, "man, these kids are lucky! They are wiring the entire campus! They will even have an Internet connection and a phone connection in their dorm rooms. If they ony knew how it used to be..."

Roll a few years forward, Dominique is now 13, she is starting 8th grade in the Fall, and she goes to Exeter for the Summer School Program. It is the 4th of July, and her Facebook status reads:


Dominique Goncalves in new hampshire in a hotel room watching deal or no deal-15 minutes away from exeter.

July 4 at 10:06pm· Comment·Like 

Dominique Goncalves IS IN BOSTON!!!! 45 MINUTES 2 NH!!!

July 4 at 5:11pm·Comment·Like

I have to confess. I have spent more time looking at Facebook these past five weeks than I have had a in a very long time. It is always fun to check out Dominique's new "friends", her pictures, and her status updates. You can get a very good sense of what she is up to.  And to add to that, I caught myself this week sending Dominique a phone text during lunchtime, checking in on her, hoping that I would get an answer back...

This morning, while I was having a coup of coffee and checking on Dominique's Facebook status, I thought that it would be fun to try to summarize Dominique's Exeter experience via Facebook. So I went into Facebook and copied her Facebook content all the way back from July 4th to present. I have 52 pages of stuff to go through.  I am still in the process of formatting it, still not quite sure what I am going to do with it, but I bet it will be a fun thing to look back in a few months. 

Even with all of this technology and ease of access, I promised myself that I would send Dominique a package via US Mail every week while she was at Exeter. And I have done just that. It really does not matter what was in those packages (very silly stuff, most of the time).  I remember that, while at Exeter, we used to run to the Academy post office after each Assembly, excitted and wondering what we would find when we opened our PO box, hoping to find that little slip of paper that said: "you have a package"...

The Future of the Web

My dad and I always send each other things to check out on the Web: new sites, new ideas, articles, etc.

Last week dad sent me this link about THE HORIZON PROJECT to check out - someone has been keeping track of upcoming trends on the Web and has been ranking them for several years... and this is what they came up with this year (go ahead and check each one of them out - it's worth your time):

Time-to-Adoption: One year or Less

Time-to-Adoption: Two to Three Years

Time-to-Adoption: Four to Five Years

The one topic that intrigued me the most wasThe Personal Web (two to three years out). As the website states,

Online publishing tools like blogs, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and the like have become mainstream – certainly in terms of who reads them, and increasingly in terms of who writes to them. The ability to instantly publish, tag, and categorize work online, without the need to understand or even touch the underlying technologies provides a host of opportunities for faculty and students. Online publishing tools are being employed in the process of education as a means for personal and professional reflection, collaborative work, research, and the development of a public voice.

The same set of technologies is being harnessed to create highly flexible, unique personal learning environments: collections of tools individually selected to suit a learner’s style and preferences. Open source learning tools that foster personal and social forms of learning and expression, though technically unrelated, work together seamlessly without any need for complicated setup.

That makes sense, doesn't it? After all, what am I doing right now? I am using easily accessible tools to create "my personal web"...

There are many neat ideas discussed here. You can spend hours and hours dwelving into each one....

One of the more intriguing ones is the idea of Personal Learning Environment Diagrams. The idea appears simple - apply the concept of a mind diagram to your daily computer habits and voila!

I was checking out a few of the examples, and I saw this one, and I thought: "one of these days I will sit down and create one of these! It should be a fun to see what I come up with." Martin Weller, the author of this website, makes an interesting note at the end of his post:

It would be good to find an easy means of sharing these, with clouds so we could see which tools are used regularly. I'm sure someone must have an idea for doing this (Cohere, the soon to be released web 2.0 extension to Compendium might be an idea).

Maybe the reason why the idea of Personal Learning Environments intrigues me so much is because it is a "core" future trend of eLearning / web enabled learning. That is a topic for a whole different post, one that my dad and I enjoy very much.