Easter Egg Vlogging: statistics and swords

Well, sort of. But don’t be scared, gentle readers, I’m not torturing you with a video of myself watching Edward Hugh watching Alex Harrowell watching me watching Edward, thus entirely disregarding the possible value of such a video for media theorists and social psychologists as well as the fact that all the cool kids are apparently engaging in such technically mediated low level chain-voyeurism these days

Last December, I saw the Swedish demographer Hans Rosling’s presentation about his project gapminder at the LeWeb3 conference in Paris. Professor Rosling and his team have developed the “Gapminder Trendalyzer”, recently purchased by Google (and now available on http://tools.google.com/gapminder/), a truly stunning tool to flexibly visualize and break down statistical time series, currently particularly relating to UN world development data.

Rosling’s presentation, in which he demonstrated beyond doubt that top Swedish students statistically know far less about the developing world than chimpanzees (who are on par with Nobel laureates), was one of the most interesting parts of the conference, and, as Loic LeMeur mentioned then, eye opening. Professor Rosling’s statistically derived world view is very different from the gloomy preconceptions most people are often mistaking for reality when talking about the state of the world’s development and demographic situation, particularly with respect to Africa, as Bruno Guissani remarks on Lunch Over IP

My experience in Africa, he says, is that the seemingly impossible is possible. Even bad governments have gone in the last 50 years from pre-medieval situation to sometimes decent infrastructure and conditions. … “You can believe statistics when you can relate them to your grandmother”, he says. By which he means that he has mapped his family history comparing the situation of Sweden in the different years in which his family members lived to that of different nations of the world today. His great-great mother born in the early 1800 lived in a country similar to today’s Sierra Leone; his g-g-mother in one that looked like Mozambique; his g-mother’s living conditions were close to that of Ghana today; his mother lived in the equivalent of Egypt. “And I am a Mexican”, he says, while his kids were born when Sweden was similar to today’s Chile and, in the case of the youngest one, like Singapore.

Luckily, for your Easter Vlogging pleasure, the TED blog has a video of Professor Rosling’s speech at the TED conference 2006, which is basically the one I saw in Paris. Unfortunately, there seems to be no video of his appearance at the TED conference 2007, where he demonstrated that demography and sword swallowing are two rather compatible activities. But there is a picture

Google news without Belgian news

The Belgian court of Justice has ordered Google News to remove all feeds of Belgian newspapers and journalists. This news was broken by Chilling Effects:

…to withdraw the articles, photographs and graphic representations of Belgian publishers of the French – and German-speaking daily press, represented by the plaintiff, from all their sites (Google News and “cache” Google or any other name within 10 days of the notification of the intervening order, under penalty of a daily fine of 1,000,000.- € per day of delay;

The original court order, in French and dating from September 5th, can be found here (pdf). Google News seems to be charged with violating laws concerning copyright (publishing of headlines and first paragraphs) and databases (publishing cached articles after they have been retired by editors). If I understand the Belgian and Dutch press correctly, the court order concerns only publications in French and German as Dutch-language publishers have already had their headlines removed from Google News. It is possible that publishers will use this court order to negotiate, in which case Google News could eventually be forced to share its advertising revenues with the respective publishers.

Google Book Search

Whilst speculation abounds in the weblog world that Google is about to launch its own browser tchnology, more traditional media seem to be enthusing about the possibility of Google book search:

Google, beset by a growing number of competitors in the internet search business, will shortly unveil a number of new features to its own search engine, according to one of the company’s directors.

It has also started testing a service that lets users read book excerpts online, echoing the popular ?Search Inside the Book? service created by Amazon.com.

The book excerpt service, called Google Print, aims to give users links to relevant books among the other search results they receive. Clicking on the link will then lead to the book excerpt, where users can read two pages forward or back from the relevant page and also click on another link to an online store to buy the book.
Source: Financial Times

Obviously the internet war is hotting up. Meantime I’m having fun playing round with Amazon’s A9.