Is this guy the world's best lecturer on development?
September 18, 2009
I’m conscious that this blog has been somewhat heavy going this week, so here’s a reward to anyone who got through to Friday (especially for any saddoes like me who end up watching youtube at the weekend).
Hans Rosling is a youtube phenomenon, a Swedish economist whose lectures on data and development have deservedly become legendary. He specializes in showing the evolution of the world’s countries with whizzy graphics and witty commentary, and the good news is that there is a website, gapminder.com, that makes his work available to all. You can either use his database, show some of his issue-specific videos (I recommend a great 4 minute overview of urbanization), or even construct your own graphics.
I recommend spending some time learning to use this – I’m a technological Neanderthal, and even I have used the timeline of life expectancy v GDP per capita in a lecture without mishap. Our powerpoints will never be the same again.
You can (and probably should) ask questions about the content – as he bases everything on data, problems arise with less measurable issues like rights (although he does at least talk about them). But that feels a bit beside the point – really you should just sit back and enjoy the show.
He may look like a classic tweedy data-nerd, but he’s a real showman. The most extraordinary lecture I have ever seen ended with him performing an on-stage sword swallowing act. (Note, it’s a 19 minute talk, including sword swallowing, so you’ll need to allow the time). All other occasional speakers on development take note of just how far this raises the bar – I have already signed up for beginner’s glasses in fire eating and escapology……