Sunday, October 01, 2006

We need gapminder!

In my previous post I was being critical of the way some of the data was being presented in gapminders' World Income Distribution animation. I was even so bold to email my post to gapminder, and to my pleasant surprise I received a comment back from Hans Rosling. The comment spoke of how the animation used a purchasing power dollar. So, using google scholar, I went in seach of papers or some kind of reference that provided me insight how a purchasing power dollar worked. There is a lot to read, the concept goes back to the 1600's and in my quick read I would say the jury isn't out on the concept of purchasing power parity (PPP). So I didn't get the answer I was looking for but I've learned more about the world and how things are "measured". I found a really good quote from 1988 that sums it all up;
...Because of these sensitivities, one must carefully consider summary statements and policy implications derived from cross-national comparisons of poverty and/or inequality.
I am still struggling with the idea that a dollar in 1970 had the same purchasing power as a dollar in 2003 even if in the long-run the products and services have the same purchase price.
So what does this post have to do with needing gapminder? Being a flash programmer, I wanted to create my own animated graph which included two things; inflation and the dollar a day scale not presented as a logarithmic scale. Then I started to think about where would I get the data to base my animated graph upon and gathering the data would be a huge enormous hill to climb! If not impossible. So, this is why we need gapminder. Gapminder wants to make global data available, to everyone, so they can do their reseach and they can create views of the data in new and solid ways. These new views would add to the dialogue and that would make the world a better place.