Graphics for Who Should I Cheer For?

Visual presentation of global development data has become an art form. To a lay person, mounds of data compiled by a graduate student have little meaning. Gapminder helps us “visualize human development,” turning complex data into easy-to-use tools.

Similarly, if you are struggling to pick a national football (soccer) team to cheer for, and have little idea about, say, Ghana or Côte d’Ivoire, then you should seek help from the “Who Should I Cheer For?” tool.

The U.K.-based World Development Movement is drawing attention to the conditions of World Cup-qualifying countries by ranking the 32 states from “the most supportable” to the least supportable in a virtual match-up.

The game uses life expectancy, poverty, military, aid and health spending, Carbon dioxide emission, income disparity, external debt, Transparency International’s Corruption Index, the number of multinational companies and Amnesty International’s human rights reports.

Gapminder, on the other hand, uses more complex data. Professor Hans Rosling and others, who started the nonprofit group last year, definitely made world development statistics much less boring.

A critical part of Gapminder’s visualization software is the moving graph. Child mortality rate, for example, can be compared with contraceptive use, per capita income, the availability of doctors or a dozen other data. The actual dots where these two data intersect can be colored by geographic regions or income groups. And the best part is that you can see how this graph changes over time.

Who hosts Gapminder’s online tools? Yes, Google.