Bruno Korbar

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A tribute to Prof. Hans Rosling

05 Mar 2017 | art, computer science, data science

Motivated by a TED talk I’ve seen recently, I have decided that in 2017, instead of a yearly resolution, I would take on a new resolution every month, no criteria what-so-ever. Some of them would be useful and practical, and some of them will be just for the hell of it. For January though, I decided to watch, and reflect on, one TED talk per day. It started with the Top-20 playlist and went on from there. It was a lot of fun, and I feel that, even if I didn’t learn a lot, at least it have improved my critical thinking a bit. When, a week after I collected my notes and looked up people and talks that I found significant, I realised that one of the authors, Hans Rosling died that day (February 7th, 2017).

I first came in contact with professor Rosling’s work in 2009, when I saw his first talk. At the time, I didn’t quite understand how important it was, however, I what blew me away was the way he was showing the data. It was unlike anything I have seen - you had this old guy using what looked like a very old school app narrating the animated bubbles and lines like it was a football match - he made population statistics fun and exciting.

It turned out, however, that I was not alone in that thought. Apparently, it was a start of a movement of data-visualization and data performance. It was revolutionary. According to Moritz Stafner, 50% of the people in the field started working on it because of professor Rosling. That is a huge legacy!

To me, though, he showed that the World, as it was shown in our textbooks was not as divided as one would think - it was continuous scale. I went trough hours of his talks, and thoroughly enjoyed most of them. I know that from now on, I will make sure that whenever I have to present data, I make it as exciting as possible. Thanks, and rest in peace.

If you don’t know who he is, spare 5 minutes to watch the show below.

Hans' BBC Show


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